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Property division: what is a Moore/Marsden calculation?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Property Division |

Considering the potentially complex issues that must be dealt with during a divorce, it’s natural to have questions. One term you may hear, but not understand, is the Moore/Marsden calculation.

Moore/Marsden explained

Since California is a community property state, any asset acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses equally. However, sometimes, a spouse has already purchased a piece of real estate prior to the marriage, which would initially make it their own separate property. But once they’re married, if any marital funds are used to continue to pay for the property, it becomes commingled—it is now both separate property and marital property.

This scenario commonly occurs when one spouse purchases a home prior to the marriage. That spouse has already paid a certain amount for the down payment and for mortgage payments, all of which is separate property. So too is any increase in the value of the home up to the date of the marriage.

Any money used toward the home after the marriage, and any increase in the home’s value after that point, belongs to the community. California Family Code Section 2640 entitles both the spouse who originally bought the home and the community to be reimbursed for their share of the respective investments and value increases of the home. A Moore/Marsden calculation is the mathematical formula California uses to determine the separate and community interests.

Moore/Marsden calculations do not cover every expense related to the home. For instance, taxes are not factored into the equation – neither are payments on interest. Furthermore, things get really complicated when the couple has made improvements to the home or the value of the home, at the time of the marriage, is not known.

Due to these complexities, seek the assistance of a professional who is experienced in California divorce and property division. They can help you through the Moore/Marsden calculation to determine how it will impact your divorce.


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