It is at this point a truism that retirement benefits, usually the most valuable asset of a marriage, are divisible upon divorce to at least the degree to which they were accrued during the marriage. This is particularly true of certain kinds of employment, such as the military, in which frequent moves are the norm and there is often less opportunity to accumulate large real estate equity.
Although the majority of estate plans created by practitioners will contemplate marriage between the settlor and a person of the opposite sex, life and the practice of law in the 21st century dictate that not all of those who seek the services of estate planning specialists and other estate and probate professionals will fit that mold.
Historically, Wisconsin courts have held that it is inherently unfair to use an asset both for property division and as income for support. More recently, however, this proposition has been watered down to the extent that it may not even exist any longer. Part 1: The double counting concept and the McReath V. McReath case
Historically, Wisconsin courts have held that it is inherently unfair to use an asset both for property division and as income for support. More recently, however, this proposition has been watered down to the extent that it may not even exist any longer. Part 2: Analyzing the McReath V. McReath case
Even with the “bubble talk” that pervades our current real estate market, in most cases the marital residence has been and will continue to be the largest family asset. When determining equitable distribution of assets, the home plays a very unique role for three distinct reasons.
When dividing pension plans in divorce, we generally use the time rule method, also known as the Brown formula (the time the employee worked under the plan during marriage, divided by the total time the employee worked under the plan).
The unthinkable happens — parents are splitting; the family must deal with the emotions and trauma of one household becoming two, two incomes becoming one, and often the more frequent absence of either Mom or Dad.
Spouses will often make it challenging for opposing counsel and their valuation experts to do their jobs by responding to disclosure requests by playing the game “catch me if you can.”
In valuing marital property for purpose of equitable distribution in most jurisdictions, the definition of marital property is what is acquired during the marriage, from the date of the marriage to the time the marriage ended. In some states, defined benefit pensions are allocated in the same way, using the benefit accrued as of the date the marriage ended (cut-off date). This is called the “bright line” approach.
We practitioners follow well-established procedures for doing business valuations. However, the field of divorce presents a plethora of unique issues, some of which really have nothing to do with the technical aspects of business valuation.