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  • Writer's pictureAlan Jacobs

Assets Can Be Complicated: The Use of Experts

Many people don’t realize that divorce mediation can include outside experts who assist divorcing spouses with complex financial issues. Parties will often retain third-parties with special training to assist in the divorce, such as a CPA, business planner or financial planner. For high net worth individuals, experts can also include tax professionals, appraisers, and employment benefit experts. Thankfully, the experts and financial appraisers used in litigation can also be used in mediation.

Not all assets are equal. The value of assets can fluctuate wildly. In an extreme example, a painting by the graffiti artist Banksy that was partially destroyed by a shredder hidden in the frame right after it was sold at auction. (The value of the painting must have gone down, right? Wrong! The notoriety surrounding the shredding stunt made the painting more valuable.)

Sometimes spouses need an expert simply to determine the increase or decrease in value of a marital asset over the years. Other times, parties need an expert to set an initial value. Determining the current value of an asset, as well as whether it is likely to appreciate or depreciate, is often greatly aided through the use of experts.

Determining the value of different assets may take different experts. For example, determining the value of a small business requires a different expert than a real estate appraisal.

Even if you do not own a now-shredded painting by a famous artist, determining the value of your assets is necessary for a divorce. After all: to divide your marital assets equitably, you first need to know what those assets are worth.

An important difference between mediation and litigated divorce is this: In mediation, spouses often agree to retain a single expert to provide analysis. In contrast, spouses who are litigating their divorce often retain separate experts, then expend thousands in legal fees debating which expert has the correct view.

In short, even if you and your spouse have complex financial assets to divide, mediation is just as equipped as litigation to see the case through to the end.

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