Equitable means fair and impartial, and when it comes to a Tennessee divorce, each spouse wants the judge to have as much information as possible to ensure that the property division is actually equitable.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, one of the keys to equitable division of nonmonetary assets is an appraisal performed by an expert. Naturally, the type of expert will depend on the type of asset, but it is especially important to find a reputable appraiser because this person may need to testify in court as to an asset’s value.

There is no official certification for appraisers, but memberships to professional associations such as the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers lend credibility. It is also important to make sure the appraiser uses the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice when determining asset value.

The AAML journal notes that there are a number of factors that a judge may consider when determining the validity of a challenge to expert testimony. These include the following:

  • The rate of error
  • Whether there are standards
  • Peer review
  • Evaluation of expert reliability
  • The expert’s qualifications

Most often, a successful challenge proves that the expert is not reliable. Expert opinions are also frequently thrown out by the court if there is evidence that the appraiser misused accepted methodologies when determining an asset’s value. Using insufficient data, relying too heavily on the opinions of others, speculating too broadly and failing to fully understand the facts have also caused many expert opinions to be discounted by a judge.