Megan Shepard - Family Law Attorney

Megan Shepard – Gastonia Family Law Attorney

When a divorcing couple in North Carolina cannot come to an agreement regarding the division of their marital property, the court will divide the property for them in a process called equitable distribution. In this process, the court will look at a detailed accounting of all of the couple’s assets and split them accordingly. However, how does a court determine the value of the property in a divorce?

Equitable Distribution

Generally, the goal of equitable distribution by a court is to provide an equal distribution of a divorcing couple’s assets to both spouses. This is done to promote fairness and equality. To do this however, the court must have a comprehensive list of all of the assets and their values. The court will look to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is the price in which the item would fetch if it were sold on the open market, in its current state, to a reasonable person. In other words, the amount of money that the property would be sold for at a garage sale or on Craigslist.

Conflicting Values

Oftentimes, divorcing couples will be tasked with creating the list of items and and their expected value. After this task has been completed, the judge will look over the list and either approve or deny it. However, in certain situations, one spouse may attempt to place a value that is much higher or lower then the item’s actual fair market value. This could be done in an attempt to gain more of the assets or to prevent the other spouse from lowballing the actual value of the property. Although this strategy may seem smart at the time, if there is a large difference in values on some of the property between the two spouses, the judge may order an independent appraiser to value the item, with the expense of the appraiser being split by the spouses.


Although valuing items can be a tedious and contentious process, it is generally in your best interest to work with your spouse to come to a fair and legitimate value on your property. If you do not do this, the entire process will take much longer and you may incur extra expenses that could have been avoided.

Contact Us

Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. to set up a personalized consultation with one of our Divorce lawyers. After speaking with one of our lawyers, you will know the legal standing of your situation and what is best for you.


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