What is the Valuation Date for a Divorce?

In Peacock v. Peacock (Memo and Order Rule 23.0 Decision April 29, 2024), the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Probate and Family Court’s marital home date of valuation.

In August 2019, the husband moved out of the marital home. In November 2019, the wife filed for divorce and, from March 30, 2020 to December 18, 2020, the wife made an estimated $130,000 worth of improvements to the marital home. The wife’s expert “testified that although the fair market value of the house was $600,000 as of August 9, 2021, it was worth only $400,000 a year earlier on March 30, 2020, when the wife began to make repairs and renovations to it.” Following a trial in April 2022, the Probate and Family Court determined the value of the marital home as of March 30, 2020 at $400,000 (the divorce judgment issued in July 2022).

The husband appealed alleging inter alia “the judge abused his discretion and failed to equitably divide the marital property by selecting March 30, 2020, as the valuation date for the marital home as opposed to August 9, 2021.” The Appeals Court determined there was no abuse of discretion as to the marital home valuation date because the Probate and Family Court had found that the wife alone had contributed to the improvements to the marital home following the parties’ separation. The Appeals Court explained that valuing the martial estate as of the date the assets are divided is appropriate where the parties contributed to the “marital enterprise” through that date, but an earlier date may be used when contributions ceased prior to the date of division.

The Appeals Court also affirmed the Probate and Family Court’s decision to go forward with the trial given that the husband did not actually request a continuance and “the judge gave greater weight to the public interest in the efficient operation of the trial list and to the interests of [the wife who was] ready for trial than to any interest the husband may have had in delay.” (internal quotations omitted) (quoting Fontaine v. Ebtec Corp., 415 Mass. 309, 316 (1993)).


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