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The Moore/Marsden Apportionment is a phrase you are likely to encounter during your divorce if you purchased a home prior to marriage but paid down the mortgage on that property during the marriage. You may be wondering, why would I have to share the equity in a home I bought before marriage? And the question would be a good one. Because property purchased prior to marriage is your separate property. Houses, however, are often bought with borrowed funds. And if you marry with a mortgage on your home, then your spouse can develop an interest in the value of your home during the marriage.

If you use your post-marital wages to pay down the mortgage during your marriage, those wages are community funds, not separate funds. And property purchased with community funds has to be shared with your spouse in a divorce. The house that you bought prior to marriage may be in your name only and the loan may only be due by you, but the community has an interest in the money that it has contributed to the purchase of that home. The community has two claims. One for a proportionate ownership interest in the home and the other for reimbursement of payments made towards the mortgage.

To determine the separate and community interest in the residence we use the Moore/Marsden Formula.  The Moore/Marsden Apportionment allows us to determine the percentage of interest belonging to the purchasing spouse and the percentage of interest belong to the community. The percentage of separate property is calculated by dividing the sum of separate property contributions to the purchase of the property by the purchase price of the property. The percentage of community property interest is determined by dividing the sum of community contributions to the principal of the loan by the purchase price. Once the percentage of community vs. separate interest is known, it is possible to determine the cash share due to the purchasing spouse and to the community. In order to calculate those cash shares, the parties will need to establish a value for the property on the date of marriage and a value for the property at the time of division.

To determine the community property cash share, one must find the sum of loan payments that decreased the principal and the community’s percentage of post-marital appreication. This results is then divided by 2 since each spouse is entitled to one-half of the community’s share. Whatever remains is the purchasing spouse’s separate property.

As an Attorney Mediator, I often work with clients who need to divide the interest in a home that one spouse purchased prior to marriage. Together we run the Moore/Marsden Apportionment calculations. Because the parties often disagree about the values that we should plug in to the calculation, we focus our attention on reaching compromise on the numbers that are plugged into the calculations. Once the numbers are agreed to, the result is purely a question of mathematics.   And in situations where the values cannot be agreed to, we will run two different calculations. Often the difference between one value and another is relatively insignificant making it easier for the parties to agree to a value for the community’s cash share. After the community’s interest is determined that value is divided between the spouses.

Mediation works best when the parties and the mediator are flexible and open to pursing an issue from a variety of perspectives. By looking at a problem through multiple lenses, we are better able to see a solution that leaves both parties satisfied.

Would you and your spouse benefit from working with a single legal professional? An attorney mediator can help you work through complicated property division issues like the Moore/Marsden Apportionment calculations, without bankrupting your marital estate. If you are interested, set up your free phone consult today. Amanda Jarratt is waiting to help you.

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