We’ve covered property division basics in a previous post, but part of that process is worth a deeper dive. You’ll need to determine the value of the assets you and your partner hold together before splitting them up. Some couples are able to agree on the value of items, but if you can’t agree or their worth is truly unknown, there are ways to assign value to the assets in question.

For items such as homes, cars, and household contents, there are a few options for determining what your stuff is worth. Note that for the purpose of property division, valuations are based on the market value for the items, not the cost of replacing them.

Online Valuation Research

For some items, such as household contents, you might start researching the value of your articles by searching Internet marketplace platforms, such as Kijiji. For vehicles, Canadian Black Book offers free evaluations based on make and model.

The court is generally not keen to accept informal evaluations from online sources, particularly for more valuable items. However, these resources can be a helpful place for you and your spouse to start the process. They might be enough to help you come to an agreement on property values without the involvement of the court.  If you can’t agree, moving on to a formal appraisal of items will be your next step.

Formal Appraisal of Property

Although there is a cost to obtaining a formal appraisal, it might be your best bet if you are engaging in the court process to split property because they are treated most favourably. For unique or high-value items such as artwork or antiques, we recommend an expert appraisal if you don’t already have one. In some cases, divorcing couples use an auction house to determine the value of household contents when informal resources aren’t adequate.

Often, the biggest asset a couple has is their home, When one person wishes to buy out the other’s interest in the house as part of the property division, it’s essential to get an accurate market evaluation. Some divorcing couples will agree to use the tax assessed value, which is easy to access through your municipality. Sometimes, it’s helpful to engage a Realtor, who will do a market evaluation and provide an opinion of value at no cost. If the court is involved, it will typically require two to three opinions of value to ensure the accuracy of the valuation. This is because Realtors often determine varying values of a home, depending on the pricing strategy of their business.

An appraisal by a certified home appraiser is the most stringent evidence for the value of a home. A professional appraiser will come to the house, take photos, measurements, and gather other information about the property. Following that, they will generate a multi-page report that supports their conclusion. While an appraisal is beneficial in determining value, be aware that they cost up to a few hundred dollars.

Choosing informal or formal evaluation

Many couples can come to an agreement on property division by using less formal means of assessing what their goods are worth. For those who can’t, obtaining professional evaluations or appraisals becomes necessary.

kelly riediger image smallBy Kelly Riediger

Have more questions about family property in the event of separation? Contact me at (204) 992-3249 or kriediger@evansfamilylaw.ca.