PROPERTY CHARACTERIZATION & DIVISION
Moore-Marsden is about who gets what equity and debt from the marital home in a divorce when the home was purchased before marriage by either one spouse or, in some cases, both spouses. The Marriages of Moore and Marsden are the bases for the calculation used to apportion the separate and community property interests (characterization). It is calculated using the purchase price and appraisals of the home and elements of Family Code Section (FC) 2640. However, the analysis does not apply when the home was purchased during marriage. If there is no appreciation during marriage, then only the funds used to acquire the home are reimbursed. The Moore-Marsden calculation also applies to commercial property (Marriage of Frick).
LA & OC: MOORE-MARSDEN FORMULA & CALCULATION
The formula is straightforward. It works well when the marital home was never refinanced. In fact, you do not need to pay a forensic accountant since there are many Moore-Marsden calculators on the internet. If you have a divorce attorney, their software (CFLR Propertizer or Xspouse) has the calculator. However, the calculator or worksheet is not for complex Moore-Marsden cases even though the formula is the same. Therefore family law attorneys and mediators hire forensic accountants to perform the analysis instead of using their calculators. However, many forensic accountants add elements to the formula, which could have hugely different results and create unnecessary litigation. Greg had a case in Los Angeles County where the other expert witness testified that the community had zero interest in the home's appreciation during marriage despite it's contributions toward the acquisition. He argued that the line of credit erased 100% of the community's contribution. The court disagreed and used Greg's opinion instead.
MORTGAGE REFINANCING & REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMS
Refinancing the marital home and changing its title (transmutation) often complicate the characterization and division of the marital home (Marriage of Branco). Separate property contributions toward the acquisition of the home during marriage also adds to the complexity since they may require tracing from a source of funds acquired before marriage or earned from separate property during marriage. The contributions toward the acquisition during marriage are presumed community property. The spouse claiming separate property for contributions during marriage can rebut the presumption, but the burden of proof is on them. It is common for one or even both spouses to live in the marital home after separation, especially with higher unemployment from COVID-19. This living arrangement complicates the reimbursement claims (Watts charges and Epstein credits or Watts-Epstein) when mortgage payments are paid by either spouse after they separate.
FAIR MARKET VALUE IS IMPORTANT IN DIVIDING PROPERTY
The market values at the date of marriage and the date closest to trial are important and are sometimes controversial if there are wide differences between real estate appraisers. The appreciation before marriage belongs to the owner of the marital home at marriage (Marriage of Marsden). Whereas, the pro-tanto appreciation during marriage belongs to the community (Marriage of Moore). The Marriage of Branco alters the apportionment of the appreciation during marriage. The (fair) market value at either date of valuation is important since it can "swing" the appreciation to favor the separate property claimant or the community. While improvements to the home before or during marriage affect the value of the home, they may also affect reimbursement claims (FC 2640). In some cases, the age of the property improvement is relevant in the claim.
SIMPLE CALCULATION: MOORE-MARSDEN WORKSHEET
For simple cases, you can use an online Moore-Marsden calculator, or you can use this worksheet. There are many calculators with case examples on the internet. If you have a divorce attorney or mediator, they can analyze the separate and community property interests. Their family law software has the calculator. However, the Moore-Marsden formula in the worksheet seemingly makes it a simple calculation. On the contrary, the formula is deceptively simple in many cases that even attorneys and forenesic accountants disagree. So, please call Greg to discuss your case.
TESTIMONIALS: MOORE-MARSDEN FORMULA IS DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE
In a complex Moore-Marsden case, "Below is my testimonial regarding your services. I can't thank you enough for your work and your contribution to my case. You are an extremely smart, talented, and KIND person. I appreciate you. Testimonial: I was referred to Mr. Raffaele through my attorney for his forensic accounting services. Mr. Raffaele's skills and extreme attention to detail were exactly what was needed for my case. Mr. Raffaele left no stone unturned and there was no doubt in my mind that he was truly invested in presenting all of the facts to get the best and most fair outcome from the court. In court, Mr. Raffaele blew the opposing forensic accountant out of the water, was able to point out all the flaws, holes, and inaccuracies in their report, and was able to confidently defend all aspects of his report in the most calm, cool, and collected way one could imagine. The court adopted Mr. Raffaele's report as credible and rejected all aspects of the opposing forensic accountant's report. I accredit this to Mr. Raffaele's thoroughness, expertise, and skill. As a client, I felt Mr. Raffaele's demeanor to be supportive and personal, something that to me was very important as I went through one of the most difficult experiences. Mr. Raffaele has my utmost respect and I would highly recommend him to anyone going through a contentious divorce in need of a forensic accountant. He takes pride in what he does, which is obvious in his performance in court and in the work he produces. I have no regrets about choosing Mr. Raffaele for his services."
"Good afternoon Greg. We have a tentative settlement as of yesterday. 99.9% over. I would like to thank you for your professional work and presentation of that work. Just a bit of gossip, opposing counsel had his head in the sand. In the judge's chambers, the judge made light of his Moore-Marsden. He basically implied that he should be feeling quite bad, a $30,000 difference. The guy put his head down and said "I know" and that he accepted your Moore-Marsden. After the community property from Arizona, my take is $45,000. I would like to thank you for your valuable service. You saved my day. Matter of fact, my attorney was an ostrich (with its head in the sand) as well. Now I will be rebuilding my future."
"A review well-deserved. I want to express my greatest confidence on a job that was more than well done by Greg Raffaele. I was in need for Greg's services for a very, very complicated divorce case (Moore-Marsden). Feeling overwhelmed with critical issues my confidence was reenergized with a comment made by Greg. He said, "we are on a team." My stress level diminished considerably after that comment. Greg also was "thrown into" this situation with not much time to complete his task of coming up with numbers and data that was more than necessary for my case. I have to admit that I fully did not understand all the complex calculations that Greg performed, and I am a bottom line kinda guy. With a phone call, Greg explained his work to me so that I could understand numbers and apply them to my case. Another amazing thing is that Greg did is job with a reasonable flat fee that include more than enough information that gave me the confidence I needed to win my case. During the conference Greg was on standby for free and would even communicate to when the best time was for him to go to lunch so that he would be there for me the whole case. Greg helped me save my house which put a roof over my daughters head all the way in Northern California. If you are considering services for a forensic accountant and expert witness no need to look any further. You won't find a better professional for the job than Greg Raffaele. Thanks again bro for your hard work.
"Greg delighted to have met you personally and thank you very much for your impeccable and extremely professional work. I apologize for my despair at some point. The judge will take the first amount of your Moore-Marsden report (and ignore the other expert's report). God bless you at all times. Good evening and thanks so much."