Under Family Law legislation the Court has the power to redistribute the property of the parties to a marriage or de-facto relationship including property owned jointly or individually. The Court’s power in this respect is discretionary. In order for the Court to make Orders regarding the division of matrimonial property there a number of steps that must be taken including identifying and valuing the parties assets.
Parties to a separation may need to get their assets formally valued where they are unable to agree the value between themselves. Parties may reach an agreement between themselves for example on the basis of a property appraisal provided by a real estate agent based on their sales knowledge in the market. Appraisals are generally free and several appraisals can be obtained at once and the agreed value can be the average of the appraisals.
However if the parties cannot agree an asset’s value they will need to formally engage a single expert valuer to provide a valuation. Under the Family Law Rules there are obligations, duties and rights which arise from the appointment of a qualified expert to provide a valuation.
Generally parties will (with the aid of their lawyers if they are represented) agree upon which expert is to be engaged and who will pay the costs of engaging the expert. The parties will also agree upon the terms of reference of the expert’s engagement. The expert may be in the field of real estate or finance or in a particular field depending upon the asset to be valued.
The expert must provide an objective and unbiased opinion within their own knowledge and capacity and is not permitted to communicate with either party to discuss the valuation.
If the parties are not in agreement as to the value of the asset the expert’s valuation report will be accepted and used by the Court to inform its decision in the redistribution of the parties’ assets.
Ultimately if you can agree the value of your assets within reason you have a certain control over the negotiation process. However if neither can agree you will need to engage an expert to assist.