Property settlement – how much is my property worth?

Property settlement – how much is my property worth?

Reaching a property settlement following the breakdown of a relationship might be difficult if there is a dispute about the value of particular assets. Often there is a period of time between when parties separate and the finalisation of their property matter. This delay can lead to the question: When should property be valued? Which can then cause confusion when asking yourself: how much is my property worth?

The position most often adopted by the Courts is that the assets are valued at or around the date of the hearing.  This can lead to problems when there has been a significant change in the values of assets or debts between separation and the date of decision.

Generally, the value of an asset may be determined by:

1.  The parties agreeing to a proposed value; or

2. The Court deciding what an asset is worth after considering the evidence; or

3. The appointment of a joint valuer.

With the exception of Superannuation, the Court has a wide discretion as to which method of valuation it applies (see: In the Marriage of Shaw [1]). When there is a dispute, parties often seek to obtain formal valuations of assets such as family companies and real property. This will impact the answer to your question “how much is my property worth?”.

When a dispute arises, the usual practice is for an expert witness to be appointed to prepare a report for the Court’s consideration. It may be necessary, in some cases, for the valuer to be called to give oral evidence in Court at the hearing.

Whilst disputes regarding the value of assets can cause delay in finalising property matters, it is often important that the current value of the asset pool is determined to ensure that a fair and equitable outcome is reached.

Of course all families and their finances are unique and if you have any concerns regarding your Property Settlement you should seek independent legal advice regarding the facts that are relevant to your matter.

[1] (1989) 12 Fam LR 806.

So, when asking yourself “how much is my property worth?”, turn to the experts. Get in touch to learn more.