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Hiring a professional appraiser for property valuation in divorce

During a North Carolina divorce, spouses will need to identify marital property so it can be divided equitably. Cash, cars and homes are fairly standard, but some couples have personal property such as antiques or artwork that is worth a significant amount of money. According to FindLaw, the judge could have considerable discretion in how these are divided.

The Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers explains that by having a professional provide a valuation of items, a couple gives the court precise dollar amounts that make the decision much less arbitrary. In fact, most judges accept expert appraisals at face value. If spouses do not agree as to the value of the item, though, they may have appraisers testify in court to attempt to resolve the dispute in their favor. This makes finding the right professional extremely important.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government does not require appraisers to get a license, so there are no official requirements or oversight on who can provide appraisals. However, professional associations such as the International Society of Appraisers do offer certifications, and they are also good places to find someone who has the appropriate qualifications. One of these organizations, the Appraisal Foundation, also provides a standard of methodology that is accepted by most experts, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

When interviewing an appraiser, a person may want to ask about affiliations, potential conflicts of interest and fees. Because hiring an appraiser can be costly, it is important to evaluate first whether the personal property is worth it. If a couple can do the research and negotiate the property division effectively, coming to a satisfactory agreement that a judge is likely to honor, they may want to forgo the expense.

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