Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Valuing Property In a Texas Divorce

Although appraisers and valuation experts may be used to determine how much property is worth, spouses are generally qualified to testify about the value of property in which they have an ownership interest. Barstow v. Jackson, 429 SW2d 537.

Property is valued at the "fair market" value. This is defined as the price a willing buyer, would pay for the property in it's current condition at the time of trial. I often refer to this as the "yard sale" value- that is, what could you get for a particular piece of property if you put it on your front lawn with a "for sale" sign on it.

Some assets are very difficult for a non-expert to value such as:
  • present value of future interests (such as annuities or pension plans);

  • small family businesses and closely held businesses;
  • goodwill

Coming up with a dollar figure for these type of intangibles can be very difficult, and often times experts themselves value these very differently. In these cases, there is often a "battle of the experts" that is waged and the judge must judge the weight of the evidence based on the credibility of the experts.