Valuing property

When a couple divides their property at the end of a relationship, the partners must first work out the total value of all their relationship property. They then deduct outstanding relationship debts. The partners share the net value of relationship property.

The actual division will usually mean that the partners each take assets of a certain value, or they sell the property and split the sale proceeds. One partner may then pay the other a sum of money if their shares are still unequal.

The law does not explain what ‘value’ means. But people normally understand it as the fair price the property could sell for between a willing seller and a willing buyer in an open market.

It is easy to work out the value of some items of property, like cars and furniture. Other assets are more complex. It is harder to work out an asset’s value when it depends on the likely future income earned from the property, like company shares or a partnership interest in a professional firm. The partners will probably need the help of an expert valuer, which can be expensive. And, given the uncertainty of predictions about the future, the partners may disagree on the value.

We wonder whether the costs, effort and potential arguments about the value of property are a big problem. If they are, we want to hear your ideas about what might help.

What do you think?

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