When you file for divorce in Michigan and begin the process of hiring an experienced divorce attorney to work on your case, you may not be thinking about the immediate need to hire experts pertaining to specific aspects of your divorce case. However, if you own high-value property with your spouse, it may be extremely important to think about hiring your own appraiser. You can work with your Michigan divorce attorney to find an appraiser with experience handling and appraising assets like yours. Even if your spouse has hired his or her own appraiser, or if you recently had the assets appraised for insurance purposes, it is nonetheless essential to have an appraiser on your team for certain types of assets.
Under Michigan law, assets are classified either as marital property or non-marital (separate) property. Separate property is not divisible, but marital property will be distributed according to a theory of equitable distribution. What this means is that the court will look to a variety of factors to determine a way of dividing marital property that is equitable—or fair—to both parties given their financial situations and the circumstances of the marriage. The following are some issues to consider when thinking about whether you need to hire an appraiser for your divorce case.
Your Spouse’s Appraiser Could Have a Different Valuation of Your Property
When you own valuable items like motor vehicles, real estate, or art with your spouse, it is important to recognize that the appraiser your spouse hired may not provide the same valuation as another appraiser. Certainly, in some cases, the appraiser could be biased in favor of your spouse, but it is also possible that another appraiser that you hire simply could place a different valuation on the property based on his or her subjective experience and knowledge of the property. In many cases when there are two very different appraisals for the same asset, the court will consider the average of the appraisals, or the parties may be able to seek a third appraisal from a new appraiser.
Market Value May Have Shifted
Even if you and your spouse had your assets appraised about a year ago, for example, for insurance purposes, it is possible that the market value of the asset has changed significantly since then. For assets like paintings or sculptures, or other collectible items, market value can shift drastically in a short amount of time, and it is important to have an appraisal that accurately reflects the current market value of the property in the event you or your spouse plan to sell it after the divorce.
Seek Advice from a Michigan Divorce Attorney
When you are facing many different issues in your Michigan divorce, the prospect of hiring an appraiser might seem like a hassle. However, hiring your own appraiser, especially when you have very valuable property, can be essential to making sure that the court values your marital assets appropriately. If you have questions about how a lawyer can assist you with this process, do not hesitate to get in touch with a Michigan divorce attorney at our firm. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information about how one of our divorce lawyers can help.