A Florida Divorce & Child Custody attorney provides answers to the most common questions when considering appealing your divorce or child custody case.
What date was my judge supposed to use for valuing marital property?
The “valuation date” is an area where the trial court has a great deal of discretion. In most cases, property (real property, bank accounts, etc) and debt will be valued as close to the date the divorce case was filed. However, property is usually valued at the trial date when the value of the property rises or falls due to passive market forces (such as the stock or real estate market) while the case is pending.
With bank accounts, it is important for the divorce court judge to make sure the valuation takes into account whether or not an account was spent down during the divorce case and if so, the circumstances surrounding the spend down. If someone has to spend down an account because their spouse failed to pay temporary support while having the ability to do so, it is likely error for the trial judge to value the account without taking this into consideration. Likewise, it is usually reversible error to value an account at the value as of the date of filing for divorce if one spouse had to spend down the account to pay marital expenses while the divorce case dragged on.
When it comes to a business, the valuation date is likely going to be the date the divorce case was filed, as any increase in value of a business is typically due to non-marital post-petition efforts of a spouse. It is likely an abuse of discretion and reversible error for the divorce court judge to value a business as of the date of the trial, especially if there was a one or two year delay between the case being filed and going to trial.
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