The martial home is often the most valuable asset to be dealt with in a divorce.
Generally, one of three things can happen to the martial home as part of the divorce: it is sold on the open market, one of the spouses buys out the other spouse’s interest, or one spouse is allowed to occupy the home for a period of time, until, for instance, a teen age child graduates from high school, and then the home is sold.
If the home is sold, the value to be distributed is easy to ascertain- it is the net proceeds remaining after all the costs associated with the sale have been paid. The costs of sale include transfer taxes, broker’s commissions, the costs to satisfy the outstanding mortgage and, of course, legal fees.
If one spouse is to remain in possession of the home, the property needs to be appraised. The appraiser, by comparing the particular home to others in similar condition and location, offers an opinion as to the property's value and the parties or the Court will determine the parties' equitable shares.
The New York Observer ran an informative piece detailing the process of selecting a real estate appraiser and the problems they encounter in valuing real estate in a contest divorce.