For most clients, their home is their largest marital asset. Unlike a retirement account, its value is more difficult to determine. Clients struggle with valuing their home when completing their Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit.   Many of them leave the line blank.  Others use the purchase price.  Neither are good options.  What other methods can litigants use to value their home?

  • Appraisal.  A home appraisal will provide the most accurate value (other than selling your home). An appraisal is a very educated guess about the value of the home.  The appraiser will visit your home. They will review the square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of your home, and take into account any recent upgrades or maintenance.  Most importantly, they will compare your home to other homes that have sold in your neighborhood.   Appraisers can also be subpoenaed to act as a witness should your case go to trial.  
  • Tax Value.  Each year you pay property taxes on  your home. The county determines the value of the home for the purposes of levying the tax. This value can be found on your county's tax office website. 
  • Online services.  Zillow and Trulia have a wealth of information.  You can easily search for homes in  your neighborhood that have sold recently.  This is especially valuable if you live in a neighborhood where homes have an identical floor plan to yours or are similarly designed.  Zillow also offers its own estimation value. 

Whichever method you choose, let your attorney know how you arrived at  the value. They may encourage you to have an appraisal particularly if your home has significant equity.  

Posted
AuthorAdriana Torriente

Now that we have established the elements of the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit (DRFA).  Why is it necessary for you to complete one? 

Superior Court Rule 24 requires that litigants in domestic relations actions complete one.  Failure to do so could result in a citation of contempt. 

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In a divorce, Judges refer to it to calculate child support, to determine whether alimony is warranted,  to determine how much alimony, to determine attorney's fees,  and to determine the division of assets and debts.  In child custody and support cases, they refer to it in determining support. 

Litigants should carefully review their DRFAs before signing them to ensure that all the values are correct as they can have drastic consequences in your case. For example, if you are paying your child's day care costs and the cost is showing at $100 per month but in reality it is a $1000 per month,  the child support you receive may be lower. 

Lately, I have noticed more and more judges immediately opening the file to ensure that updated Domestic Relations Financial Affidavits.  They want to know that these are the most current values for gross income, day care expenses and health insurance for the children since those three are critical in determining support. 

In sum, review your Financial Affidavit carefully before submitting it.  Ensure that the values are correct. If you are asking for your spouse to pay a portion of marital debt  make sure that the debt is listed on your DRFA.  If you are representing yourself, carefully review the opposing party's DRFA.  Note any discrepancies and use that in your cross examination. 

Posted
AuthorAdriana Torriente
CategoriesFinancials