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For property division in a divorce, will a court accept county property assessments (for tax purposes)?

Santa Clara, CA |

Property value has appreciated substantially since date of separation. Other party is insisting on appraising the property now instead of going with the appraisal done 2 months before the date of separation.

Will the court order a new appraisal? Can the appraised value of the home from property tax statements help at all?

If court orders a new appraisal, wouldn't that mean that the rule of using the value at the date of separation is violated? The appreciation of the property value after the date of separation should ideally go to the party who is awarded the property, rather than be divided, correct?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Probably not- it is not an appraisal of the fair market value of the home. It is the taxing authority's appraisal, and even the judges are victims of the counties. However, if no other evidence is produced, that my be relied on by the Court, but how much weight the Court gives it is debatable.

  2. The Appraisal value of the Tax Assessor is often too low, except now when most property values have been deflated, these estimates are not really to accurate.

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  3. I am not sure of what rule of using the value as of separation you are referring to. The actual rule is that assets are divided based upon the value as of date of trial.

    So, yes, the court may very well order another appraisal.

    And I agree with Mr. Musgrove. Tax assessments are not really useful information, since the value that matters is fair market value and not the taxable value. (Don't forget that Proposition 13 caps the annual assessment increases.)

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  4. By and large the tax assessor valuation of your property more times than not is inaccurate. Also, because of Prop 13 limitations, there are artificial barriers put on the County increasing the value each year to the real fair market value. By and large the court is going to take little if any notice of the County assessor’s records. A certified appraisal is the way to go.

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  5. Property is valued at the time of trial, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Business valuation has special rules due to its ongoing nature and post separation efforts by a party. Each party is entitled to obtain such an appraisal, or comparative market analysis as will help them support their position, at trial as to the current market value of the property. County assessments are usually too low and will rarely be used to support current market value. Both parties are entitled to the any increase in value of the jointly owned property, to the date of trial. The court can order a new appraisal, but more often will allow each party to acquire one of their own. At times, attorneys will agree to a joint appraiser.

    The comments made here are meant to direct you to receive local consultation from an attorney in your area and ask proper, detailed questions to get the best legal advice upon which you can take appropriate action.

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