Dougherty Tobias Iszard, Northern Virginia Law, P.C.

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How do you divide your favorite painting in the divorce?

Deciding who gets what in your Virginia divorce could become one of the most stressful parts of ending your relationship with your spouse, particularly when it comes down to dividing your personal property. You need to set aside the emotional value you place on such items so you do not end up cheating yourself in the agreement, but you also need to establish a real financial value to ensure that everything is fair. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, this may require a valuation expert.

Before you start your search for the right professional, you need to inventory and catalog all your personal property. This task needs to be done for settlement purposes whether you hire an appraiser or not. The inventory should include a description of each item, including measurements, provenance and unique features. You should provide pictures of each, as well. At that point, you may want to weigh whether you and your spouse believe the cost of an appraisal would be greater than the effect the value of the items may have on your settlement outcome.

You may need to find more than one appraiser, depending on the range of items you have. However, there are professional appraisal standards that most valuation experts adhere to. These are known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. Reliable experts may also be certified by professional associations, such as the American Society of Appraisers and the International Society of Appraisers. If you worry that your divorce will end up in litigation, you may want to search for someone who will provide expert testimony. This information may be helpful as you prepare for property division, but it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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