Valuation of Complex Assets: Get This Value Right to Unlock a Fair Settlement

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In high-asset divorces within California, there are often complex assets at stake. Some properties are easy to divide. A house, for example, is easy to split 50-50. There is a straightforward appraisal process. Additionally, the court can order the property sold and the proceeds divided equitably. Other assets are more complex. For example, intellectual property can be an asset, but assessing that value is much more tedious. You’ll need an accurate valuation of complex assets to achieve a fair settlement and protect your interests. Here’s what you need to know to get this value right and reach a fair settlement.

Valuation of Complex Assets: What Assets Can a California Court Consider?

Almost anything acquired within the marriage is community property, even complex assets or assets with some intangibility. The following assets are all within the purview of the court in a divorce:

  • Businesses: From small to large, any business built within the marriage or whose value rose within the marriage is an asset the court can consider.
  • Intellectual Property: Ideas, copyrights, patents, trademarks, and more are all divisible under California law.
  • Collectibles: Art, rare coins, antiques, old cars, and other collectibles are treated as assets and are divisible.
  • Professional Practices: If you are a doctor, for example, and you have a practice in California, the value of that practice – of your good reputation and positive reviews – extends beyond just the furniture and equipment your business has. Just like in accounting, goodwill is an asset.

These are just some of the complex assets California divorce attorneys encounter. In actuality, the courts can divide anything acquired during the marriage.

Finding the Right Appraiser

Often, the best way to determine complex valuations is to find an appraiser. If you are trying to assess the value of a business, you’ll need someone with a proven track record of evaluating companies. The more credentials they have and experience presenting findings in California courts, the better. Similarly, if you have a rare piece of art, it’s worth hiring an appraiser with knowledge and skill in valuing art.

For smaller assets, the lawyers for each side can often negotiate values without an appraisal. However, an appraisal is almost always necessary for the valuation of complex assets. Your attorney can help find the right appraiser for the job.

What Happens When Two Appraisers Reach Different Values?

Both spouses commonly hire independent appraisers to arrive at a valuation, and equally commonly, the two appraisers will come back with different values.

When this happens, there are a few possible outcomes.

Ideally, both parties would look at the valuations and compromise on something in the middle. After all, if one appraiser values the artwork at $400,000 and another at $380,000, it’s in everyone’s best interest to meet in the middle at $390,000 and move on to the next item.

However, sometimes negotiations aren’t possible. In that case, it may be time for a third appraiser or a mediation. If neither works, the judge has the final authority to decide on the asset value. Typically, it’s in both parties’ best interests to negotiate a settlement without involving the court. An experienced California divorce attorney can walk you through this process.

Valuation of Complex Assets: A Complex Problem Requiring an Attorney

In our area, we frequently encounter complex assets in divorces. High-asset divorces almost always involve some complex assets, whether artwork or intellectual property. Finding the correct valuation is typically your best bet to protect your interests. If you leave the valuation solely up to your soon-to-be ex, you will likely have an unfair decree.

If your divorce involves complex assets, please call (408) 560-4487 or complete our secure online form to schedule a case evaluation with one of our skilled high-asset divorce attorneys. Let us help you protect your interests!

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