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Asset Valuation in Divorce : Understanding Your Options

Asset Valuation in Divorce 

british pounds with symbols to depict division of assets

Divorce is never without its challenges, especially when it comes to dividing assets. Whether it’s property, businesses, pensions, jewellery, vehicles, or any other possessions, assigning value to these assets can add another layer of confusion and stress.

However, understanding how to value assets is key to achieving a fair and equitable division of property. In this blog, we’ll explore different methods of asset valuation and how family mediation can help couples work through this challenging process.

Remember: A court will expect a true valuation for all assets over £500. And you will be signing a legal form to confirm this. All assets need to be valued and disclosed, even if they are not being shared as part of the overall settlement.

Property

Typically, to value a property on divorce you will do one of three things:

(1) Agree on the Price Between Yourselves

This is usually where a property has just been purchased or has been sold but not yet completed. You can of course just agree the property valuation between yourselves in any situation, but you both need to be happy that the valuation is accurate. Some people use online valuation tools such as Zoopla or Rightmove but bear in mind they are not always accurate and can be tens, if not thousands of pounds away from the true value.

(2) Three Estate Agent Valuations and take the Average of the Three

This is the most popular method used. Why three? Valuations can vary substantially from agent to agent. For the valuations, you should ask the agent for realistic selling values – not an initial asking price. The average of 3 x estate agents (who have visited the property in person) will usually be accepted by the courts as the current valuation of a property. You should ask the agents for a realistic selling value.

(3) Pay for a Professional Valuation

Family homeYou will usually jointly instruct a chartered surveyor to give a value for a property. This valuation will be accepted by the courts as the true value of the property. You only need to instruct one chartered surveyor. Prices will vary depending on the property, but costs will be upwards of £750+VAT.

A chartered surveyor will provide a full valuation report. This can be helpful for particularly unusual properties where there is little to compare with on the market.  Or it is used where you are unable to agree the value by one of the other methods above.

Read our blog here on what you can do during periods where property prices are falling.

Businesses

Business valuations typically involve assessing the current market worth of a business entity, considering its assets, liabilities, earnings potential, and other relevant factors. This can be done through various methods. Let’s take a closer look at three of those valuation methods here:

(1) Asset-Based Valuation

Asset-based valuation determines a business’s value by adding up all its physical and non-physical assets and then subtracting its debts. This method is handy for businesses with a lot of physical assets, like factories or real estate companies, where those assets play a big role in how much the business is worth.

Who can Help – Chartered Surveyor or Valuation Surveyor

Chartered accountants possess expertise in property valuation, but they can also evaluate businesses, especially those with significant tangible assets like property or equipment. They can provide accurate assessments of the business’s asset value, which is needed for asset-based valuations.

(2) Income-Based Valuation

Income-based valuation methods assess a business’s value by looking at its ability to make money now and in the future. This type of valuation works well for businesses with steady cash flows, like services or established companies with a reliable earnings track record.

Who can help – Chartered Accountant or Forensic Accountant

Chartered accountants have the financial expertise necessary to analyse a business’s financial statements, cash flows, and earnings history.

Forensic accountants, in particular, specialise in assessing financial data for legal matters such as divorce proceedings.

(3) Market-Based Valuation

Market-based valuation assesses a business by comparing it to others recently sold or traded within the market. This approach proves beneficial when there’s an active market for similar businesses.

Who can help – Business Valuation Expert or Consultant

Business valuation experts specialise in assessing the value of businesses using various methods, including market-based approaches. They have the knowledge and experience to compare the subject business to similar ones recently sold or traded in the market.

It is important to note that different valuation methods have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the selection of the method depends on factors such as the industry, financial performance, and the purpose of the valuation. Typically, a combination of methods is utilised to ensure a thorough and well-supported valuation process.

Read more about this in our blog: Divorce and the Family Business

Pensions

Pensions are often significant assets in a divorce. Valuing pensions requires expertise in financial planning and understanding the terms of the pension plan. Consulting with a financial advisor or pension on divorce expert (PODE) can help determine the present value of pension assets.

Pension valuations are dependent on whether the pension is in payment or not. If you are not yet receiving the pension, you should start by asking for a cash equivalent value (can be called CEV, CETV, CE or transfer value) from your pension provider. This can take up to 3 months to receive, so it is worth asking for this figure as soon as possible.

For more information, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Pensions on Divorce.

Jewellery

It is necessary to disclose all assets (valued over £500), including jewellery. While there might not be a strict requirement to get formal valuations for each piece, providing an accurate assessment of their value is important for a fair asset division. However, the extent to which you need to value your jewellery depends on factors like its value and importance in the asset pot.

Here are a few ways you can value your jewellery:

Agree between Yourselves – It is possible to agree on the value of jewellery with your ex-partner. If both parties can come to a mutual agreement on the value of the jewellery, they can document this agreement as part of their financial disclosure.

Professional Jewellery Appraisal – Seeking the services of a certified jewellery appraiser who provides a detailed assessment of the jewellery’s quality, characteristics, and estimated value based on market factors and craftsmanship.

Comparative Market Value – Research recent sales of similar jewellery items in the market through online platforms, auction records, or sales data from reputable jewellers to determine the jewellery’s value based on comparable pieces’ market prices.

However, it’s important to ensure that any agreement reached is fair and accurately reflects the true value of the jewellery.

Vehicles

hand pushing a small wooden carValuing vehicles is relatively straightforward and can be determined by assessing their current market worth. Here are a few methods you can use:

Online Research – Research similar vehicles online through platforms like AutoTrader to get an estimate of your vehicle’s value based on its make, model, year, mileage, and condition.

Professional Appraisal – Consider getting a professional appraisal from a certified vehicle appraiser. They can provide a comprehensive assessment of your vehicle’s condition and value, considering factors like mileage, wear and tear, and any modifications.

Dealership Evaluation – Visit local dealerships to get an appraisal of your vehicle’s trade-in value. While this may not reflect the vehicle’s full market value, it can provide a rough estimate.

Recent Sales Data – Research recent sales of similar vehicles in your area to gauge the market value. Online classifieds, auction sites, and local vehicle listings can provide insights into what similar vehicles are selling for.

Once you have gathered information using one or more of these methods, you can determine an appropriate value for your vehicle to include in your financial disclosure.

How Family Mediation Can Help

Family Mediation offers divorcing couples a constructive and collaborative approach to asset valuation. Family mediation provides a neutral environment where couples can openly discuss their assets and work towards mutually acceptable solutions.

Mediators facilitate productive conversations, help clarify financial information and guide couples through the asset valuation process. Once everything is valued, by focusing on communication and compromise, mediation empowers couples to make informed decisions about asset division that reflect their individual needs and priorities.

GET IN TOUCH TO FIND OUT HOW MEDIATE UK CAN HELP WITH YOUR PARENTING OR FINANCIAL DISPUTE, OR WITH A DIVORCE OR SEPARATION.

CALL 0330 999 0959 OR CLICK HERE FOR A FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION

Summary

Valuing assets during divorce demands a thoughtful assessment of each asset’s worth and its importance to both spouses. Understanding the available valuation methods and the benefits of processes like family mediation in facilitating productive conversations, can assist couples in managing asset distribution with clarity and assurance.

Whether it’s property, businesses, pensions, vehicles, or any other assets, even if agreement is reached on specific values, seeking professional advice, and considering alternative dispute resolution methods, can assist couples in reaching fair and equal results despite the difficulties of divorce.

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