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Home appraisals are key in property division

Divorce usually brings up debates about which spouse will get to keep which shared belongings. Massachusetts couples trying to settle their divorce probably understand well that property division can be stressful and time-consuming.

For many couples, their most valuable asset is likely their home. Determining the value of the home is very important, as neither spouse wants to receive fewer assets than the other spouse. According to a Wall Street Journal report, there are several ways couples can go about determining the home's value.

A home appraiser can come to the couple's house and make an appraisal based on various aspects of the home and neighborhood. For instance, an appraiser may take renovations or updates to the home into account when valuing the house.

The Wall Street Journal report indicates that couples can either each hire an appraiser and compare the appraisals or they can hire a neutral appraiser and use the single appraisal of the home's value. The appraisal will help determine the price the house will be sold for. Or, if one spouse continues living in the home, the appraisal may help determine other aspects of the property division.

For instance, one of the stars of the reality show 'Real Housewives of Orange County' recently divorced her husband. She still lives in the home the couple shared, but her ex- husband got to take almost all of their other belongings that were in the home. This type of tradeoff may work for some couples, but not for others.

As mentioned before, dividing property in a divorce can be challenging. While it may take a while to divide all property, doing so before the divorce is settled is important.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Appraisers in Splitsville," Alyssa Abkowitz, Nov. 29, 2012

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