What Is a Moore/Marsden Calculation?

It is important to understand how California determines property division during a divorce case. This is one of the most complicated and heavily disputed areas of a divorce. When dividing real property during a divorce, you might hear the phrase Moore/Marsden calculation. Understanding what this calculation is and how it might impact your divorce case is important as a claimant in Sacramento.

Community Property Laws in California

California abides by community property divorce laws. California Family Code 2640 says that when dividing property during a dissolution of marriage, each party shall receive reimbursement for his or her contributions to the acquisition of community property. The Moore/Marsden calculation is a simpler way of determining how to divide real property owned by one or both parties during a divorce. It may come into play when one spouse has made separate property contributions to community property; for example, if one spouse purchased a home before the marriage, but both spouses contributed to mortgage payments after the marriage.

In California, the courts use the Moore/Marsden equation to calculate each spouse’s interest in real property. Without the equation to simplify things, the matter can be very confusing for a couple due to factors such as who originally purchased the property, whether it was refinanced during the marriage, and whether post-separation charges and credits apply. The California courts came up with the Moore/Marsden calculation based on two cases: In re Marriage of Moore in 1980 and In re Marriage of Marsden in 1982. This calculation helps make property division easier for couples during a divorce.

How Does the Moore/Marsden Calculation Work?

The two cases of Moore and Marsden held that the community in a marriage may receive total reimbursement when the community pays down the principal, along with a pro tanto share of the appreciation of the property from the date of the couple’s marriage to the date of the divorce trial. The Moore/Marsden calculation takes these amounts and uses a special equation to come up with fair property distribution accordingly.

  • Add together the exact reimbursement and pro tanto share for the community interest in the property.
  • Multiply community interest by community property payments of the principal divided by the purchase price.

The spouse that made the purchase will receive the pro tanto (as far as it can go) interest in the property’s increase in equity during the time of the marriage, based on the Moore/Marsden calculation. For example, say Spouse A purchased a property for $200,000 before the marriage. Spouse A paid a down payment of $25,000, plus an additional $50,000 toward the principal before marrying Spouse B. In the time from the date of purchase to date of marriage, the property increased in value to $300,000. Once married, both parties collectively paid another $50,000 toward the principal. On the date of the divorce trial, the total value of the property is $400,000.

In this example, the community would first receive a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement of Spouse A’s premarital contributions: $50,000. The community would also receive an amount equaling the appreciation of the property from the date of marriage to the trial, $100,000, multiplied by community property payment of principal ($50,000) divided by the purchase price of the home ($200,000). The Moore/Marsden calculation would look like this: $50,000 + ($100,000 x [$50,000/$200,000]) = $75,000. The Moore/Marsden calculation does not account for separate interest. That requires a different formula, The Separatizer.

Get Help With the Moore/Marsden Calculation

Although the Moore/Marsden calculation simplifies complex property division issues during a divorce in California, it can still be difficult to understand and implement. Hire a divorce lawyer in Sacramento at Boyd Law for answers to your questions and professional guidance through the confusing property division process. A Sacramento family law attorney can work through complicated aspects of your divorce while protecting your rights and interests. Boyd Law offers free legal consultations to answer any property or asset division questions for clients at no risk.