What is the Moore-Marsden Rule?
The Moore-Marsden Rule refers to the names of two separate court cases decided by the California Supreme Court two years apart. The first case was known as the Marriage of Moore decided in 1980 and the second case was the Marriage of Marsden which was decided in 1982. Both of these cases ultimately decided in the Supreme Court had issues of community property and mortgage payment at their heart. The issues at the heart of both the cases was whether the community should be entitled to any portion of the equity on a home that was the separate property of one of the spouses prior to the marriage but mortgage payments were made on the property during the marriage.
A Look at the Marriage of Marsden case
To be able to better apply the Moore Marsden rule in Orange County divorce cases, you need to have a better understanding of the Marsden case. In the Marsden case, a husband had bought a home before he had gotten married. The house was worth around $38,300. To buy the house, the husband made a down payment on the home worth around $8300 and for the remaining balance got a loan that as worth around $30000. By the time the marriage had taken place, the principal; amount of the mortgage was down by $7000. After marriage the husband continued to make payments and the principal amount was down by an additional $9200. The husband continued with the payments and post marriage he decreased the principal amount by $655. The question that was asked to the court was whether the spouse was entitled to any portion in the house since payments were also made during the course of the marriage.
Applying The Rule
Before we look at the rule that was developed and is being applied in the Orange County family law courts, the important thing to realize is that the payments were made from the community funds. Had the payment for the separate property been made using separate funds, there would be no legal issue to debate. Also if the payments were made only on the interest rate and not the principal amount, the issue would not have been a legal one. When this is not the case, the court looks at the principal amount that was paid off, the amount of interest that is paid on it and the value of the house at the current time. All of these numbers are added to create a sum that has been paid for the mortgage through community finances. That amount determined, will then be halved for each spouse and the amount that comes in the claimant spouse’s share will need to be paid. The question that was asked to the court was whether the spouse was entitled to any portion in the house since payments were also made during the course of the marriage.