When Are Marital Assets Valued for Purposes of Dividing or Awarding Them?
Family Code section 2552 is based upon the premise that assets are, generally speaking, to be valued at time of trial. However, there are many exceptions to this rule that really are based upon one of two common scenarios: (1) one party devotes post-separation time, skill and efforts to a business for which they are the sole or key employee and which may have increased in value since the date of separation by reason of contributions of such efforts (in which case, the community estate ought not benefit from the separatizer's contributions after the parties have split up) and (2) where one party who is in control of an asset intentionally runs it into the ground, such that it is only fair that that asset be valued at date of separation rather than time of trial. A motion for bifurcated trial is required if you hope to overcome this presumption and attempt to have the court value assets at a different date than 'time of trial.' You can find the necessary judicial council forms in our family law form file page.
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CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
DIVISION OF PROPERTY
Family Code Section 2552
(a) For the purpose of division of the community estate upon dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, except as provided in subdivision (b), the court shall value the assets and liabilities as near as practicable to the time of trial.
(b) Upon 30 days' notice by the moving party to the other party, the court for good cause shown may value all or any portion of the assets and liabilities at a date after separation and before trial to accomplish an equal division of the community estate of the parties in an equitable manner.