After you separate and once you have been consulting your Family Lawyer for a few months, your lawyer may well mention that it would be a good idea to draw up a Schedule of Matrimonial Property.
If finances are an issue and you want to ensure you receive your fair share of the matrimonial assets this is a natural and advisable step.
The idea is to set out, usually in a spreadsheet, all the matrimonial assets so that both parties are precisely aware of what there is to share.
Not only does the schedule list the assets but it also states the value of the assets.
In many cases a fair sharing of the matrimonial assets is an equal share and so both you and your former other half and your respective lawyers will pore over the Schedule to try and work out who should get what.
Some assets will be in your sole name and some will not. There will be assets, usually the matrimonial home, which are in joint names. Often assets in your sole name will be retained by you and it is the assets in joint names which are the subject of negotiation as to how they will be divided.
The valuations of the assets are vitally important. The value of each asset is included in the total. It is the total that will be split between you and if the values are inaccurate you could be losing out badly.
You might think getting the valuations right is straightforward but this is not always the case.
The following is a list of assets where sometimes obtaining a meaningful or accurate value to insert in the schedule can be problematic along with the reasons why;
- Other assets such as shares
Before you sell a house the seller has to obtain a Home Report which incorporates a valuation by a surveyor. So that might seem simple enough but, especially in the post Covid market houses might sell for anything up to 20% over valuation. So what happens to the uplift? This might not matter if you decide to sell the house but what value do you take if there is to be a transfer of title to one of the owners? What figure do you put in the schedule if the valuation is supposed to be at the date of separation?
Great care is needed here. A pension is definitely a matrimonial asset but sometimes it can be difficult to establish the correct value. The value is calculated on the relevant date (ie the date of separation). If, however, someone was contributing to a pension before they got married that bit should not be included in the valuation as it is not matrimonial property.
In these circumstances the value of the pension would have to be apportioned for the period of the marriage. Pensions are often the biggest asset there is. It is essential that the correct valuation is obtained and if there is any doubt about the accuracy of the valuation an IFA (Independent Financial Adviser) who specialises in Pensions should be brought in to check the valuation.
In many cases the value of the contents of a house is low. Everything is second hand and would fetch very little if sold. In these circumstances most people would be happy with an estimate of the value. Sometimes contents do have real value. Think of antiques or specialised high tech equipment. One or other party might have a valuable collection of stamps, or china or almost anything. If there are more valuable contents these should be formally valued by a specialist company so that the correct figure can be entered in the schedule.
If one party owns a business which was purchased during the course of the marriage the business in question as a matrimonial asset. Valuing such a business is a technical matter which should be carried out by an independent forensic accountant. Sometimes, if the business is very small this will not be necessary but in most cases a formal valuation will be required to ensure that the valuation is taken into consideration in the overall scheme of things.
Many cars are leased or bought on HP or PCP. Other cars are owned outright. Whatever the case a valuation is needed. Leased cars may have no value but cars on finance may have a value depending on the type of contract. If it is suggested the car is worth nothing the contract in question should be looked at. For a small fee many online companies offer immediate valuations of cars as long as you quote the registration number.
There are many other types of assets where valuations will be required. Take shares for instance. A share may have a particular value on the date of separation but this may go up or down before any financial agreement is reached. Valuations have to be obtained for share save schemes and share options. Sometimes these will not have a face value and an actuary will have to be involved to calculate the valuation on the relevant date.
As can be seen there are many different types of assets that have to be included in the Schedule of Matrimonial Property. It is important to ensure that each party receives a fair share of the assets, that not only all the assets are listed but also that accurate valuations are attributed to each asset.
If the valuations are not accurate or simply guesswork there is an excellent chance that somebody will lose out.
At Rooney Family Law we are very conscious of this issue and will ensure that accurate valuations are obtained so you will not be disadvantaged.