Regular readers of our blog will know that California is a community property state. The prevailing thought among community property states is that assets and debts acquired during a marriage belong to both spouses, while assets and debts acquired before the marriage will typically belong to that spouse only.
But what happens if you bought a house before your marriage, and community funds – from you and your spouse – have been used for mortgage payments?
According to California law, your spouse or partner may be entitled to a share of the house.
We’ll talk about it in this issue.
How could my spouse/partner be entitled to a house I bought on my own before our marriage?
The law in question is known as the Moore/Marsden calculation, and is housed in section 2640 of California Family Law.
The name Moore/Marsden refers to two California divorce cases that involved the division of real estate that had been purchased by one spouse/partner before marriage.
Here’s how the Moore/Marsden calculation shakes out:
Even though one spouse purchased the property before the marriage, both spouses will have an interest in it if community funds were used to further fund the property, as in a mortgage agreement.
How is the exact share of the property determined?
There is a calculation that courts will use to determine how to divide the property fairly. It can be a bit tricky but to get a reading of the fair share of the property, follow this formula for a rough estimate:
- Purchase price =
- Down payment =
- Payments on loan/mortgage principal with own funds =
- Fair market value of property on day of marriage =
- Payments made on loan/mortgage with community funds =
- Fair market value at time of division of property/assets =
- Fair market value of property at time of division =
- Line 4 minus line 1 =
- Line 6 minus line 4 =
- Line 5 divided by line 1 =
- Line 8 multiplied by line 9 =
- Line 8 minus line 10
- Line 2 + line 3 + line 7 + line 11 = Your share of the property
- Line 5 + line 10 = Community property
Yes, this can easily become complicated and confusing. Because of that, a good resource for you may be the online Moore/Marsden calculator.
Let the Men’s Legal Center Fight for Your Rights
Issues with property and asset division can become very complicated very quickly. That’s yet another reason why it makes sense to have expert legal representation fighting for your rights.
Get in touch with the Men’s Legal Center by calling 866-636-7534 or sending an email.