Value Property In A California Divorce

Determine value as close to the trial date as reasonably possible.

The value of property for purposes of divorce in California is defined loosely as the price that a willing buyer and a willing seller would agree to on the open market. California is a community property state, meaning that generally, property acquired by either party during the marriage and before separation belongs to both spouses equally. Valuing community property is particularly important because the property must be divided in half upon divorce. Because an incorrect value can have dramatic results upon divorce, consult an attorney before settling on a final valuation number.


1. Compare the sale prices of similar properties in the area to determine the value of real property. The value cannot be based on a listed sale price, the value of the property as determined by the county tax assessor or by the amount of tax due. Note that the value of real estate can only be shown by an expert, the property owner or the property owner’s spouse in a divorce proceeding in California.

2. Refer to the price at which a publicly held stock was traded for on the date of valuation to determine the value of stock.

3. Read the promissory note and figure the amount of principal due to determine its value. Future interest due on the note is not included in the valuation.

4. Read the “cash surrender value” figure noted in a whole life insurance policy to determine its value.

5. Refer to the mid-point between the high and low retail values, as shown in the Kelley Blue Book, to determine the value of automobiles. Hire an expert automotive appraiser to determine the value if the mid-point value does not seem reasonable. Automotive appraisers are commonly retained to determine the value of restored classic cars.

6. Hire a property appraiser to determine the value of furniture, furnishings and tools. Note that the item’s age is more important that the cost to replace it, as used items, particularly furniture, sell for considerably less than new items. Although not required, some California courts are willing to consider the completed sale prices of online auction houses to assess value.