Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Pennsylvania Divorce: What happens to the marital home?

By: Lisa M. Vari on G+

Often our PA divorce clients' biggest concern in their cases is the home that was purchased by themselves and their spouse during the marriage, or the "Marital Residence." Often this is the most valuable asset of the marriage, and the one that causes the most fighting during the divorce process. Because of this fact, most couples opt to have the marital residence professionally valued so that there are no ambiguities in the equitable distribution process. There is more than one way to get a valuation done for a home, and sometimes a combination of some of these methods is the best way to go.

Ways to Value the Marital Residence in a Pennsylvania Divorce:

1) Obtaining a joint appraisal. Often both sides will agree that in order to work toward settlement in the divorce, a professional real estate appraiser would be best suited to provide the valuation of the marital residence. Often the couple will split the cost of obtaining a joint appraisal 50/50 so that the cost can be divvied up, and the parties know that the appraiser will be neutral in placing a value on the property. This is the most reliable method for placing a value on the marital residence.

2) Comparative Market Analysis. Realtors are often willing to do this for little or no cost, and this valuation can be utilized during the divorce process. However, this valuation is not as reliable as a real estate appraisal. This valuation is done by looking at other homes for sale or homes that were recently sold in your local area and comparing those homes' sale prices with the value of your home. This option, however, does not always take into account the actual condition of your home or whether there have been renovations or improvements on the inside of your home.

3) Do your own research. Although not as accurate as the other methods, this is another way of getting a valuation of the marital residence, and can also be a good way to get a comparison value to use in conjunction with the joint appraisal and/or comparative market analysis value. Zillow.com is one website that parties can use to get an idea as to the value of their home. However, this is only recommended as a backup method to obtaining a marital residence valuation - as this is often not accepted as valid in family courts and is not as accurate as obtaining a joint appraisal.

Questions about how to obtain a valuation of the marital residence in your divorce case? Our Pittsburgh family law attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari and Associates have a network of reliable and trustworthy real estate appraisers that we can utilize in your divorce case to obtain the most accurate value possible. Contact us today!

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