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Do I need a home appraisal before getting a divorce?

If you consider the family home to be your biggest marital asset, you may have concerns about how it will be divided during divorce proceedings. This is to be expected. After all, you paid into the mortgage all those years. You want your fair share of the home's value.

But in order to get your "fair share," there are a few things you need to know about dividing property in New York, particularly when it comes to the family home. With this background knowledge, you can more accurately answer the question we've posed above:

Do I need a home appraisal before getting a divorce?

Before you can answer this question, let's look at how marital property - which includes the family home - is divided during divorce. 

Because New York is an equitable distribution state, a number of factors are taken into consideration before the value of the home is divided equitably. The parties must agree that the house, or at least a portion of it, is marital. If so, the parties' marital shares must be determined. To figure that out, we focus on when the property was purchased, who contributed what to the purchase, whether either party has vacated the property and when, etc...

More often than not, the house is an entirely marital asset and each spouse is entitled to an equal share. 

Getting an appraisal of the marital home just prior to divorce can benefit spouses whether they choose to sell the marital home and split the proceeds or if one spouse sells their portion of the home to the other, called a home buyout. By getting a current appraisal, spouses have a better idea of what the home's fair market value is instead of an outdated price that may not accurately account for recent changes in the market.

Disputes concerning the value of the family home are common during divorce proceedings, oftentimes requiring the intervention of a judge. But if spouses know the current value of the home and are on reasonable speaking terms, then it may be possible to come to an agreement about how the home should be split, either on their own or with the help of a skilled attorney-mediator

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