Most people in Baton Rouge understand that Louisiana is a community property state. Therefore, marital property must be divided equally in every divorce. Many people wonder why or how an appraiser could be used in a Louisiana divorce. The answer is not obvious, but reasons for using an appraiser in the appropriate situation are compelling.

Just because marital property must be divided equally does not mean that a couple will not dispute the value of their home or business property. To divide marital property equally between the divorcing spouses, the couple must either agree on the value or present evidence to the court supporting the value they believe is appropriate. In both cases, an appraiser may help the parties or the court choose the proper value.

Real estate appraisers use three approaches to determine the value of property. The first is the sales comparison approach; in this approach, the appraiser looks for other properties with similar attributes and compares the prices at which these properties sold. The second approach is the cost approach, in which the appraiser attempts to determine the cost of building the property from the ground up. The third approach is the income approach. This procedure is usually employed only to determine the value of property that produces income, such as an apartment building or a retail building, such as a store or a factory.

All appraisers follow a set of industry wide rules called the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. These rules tell appraisers which techniques to use for particular types of properties and whether certain rules may be varied. The USPAP rules are used for both real and personal property. Couples who have accumulated a large amount of assets during their marriage may benefit from using an appraiser to assist them in valuing and dividing their marital estate.