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Valuation date in CA


Guest evguenir

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Guest evguenir

Hi, my ex-wife prepared the order with her QDRO attorney recently. It looks fine to me except for the valuation date. She used the date of divorce instead of the date of separation as previously agreed on the MSA. The difference between the two is one and a half years. Unfortunately, the MSA doesn’t state it clearly at what date the division should be made. I know that in California it is common to use the date of separation as a cut-off date for property division, but she doesn’t seem to buy it. I am wondering what my chances are in the court if I do not sign the order. Thank you.

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Are in the review stage? Just send it back with a correction?

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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Guest evguenir

Yes, still in review. In fact I already did send it back, but she threatens to bring this to the court unless I sign it the way she wants.

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Don't automatically give into the threat. However, you should have some understanding of what the dollar difference is, which could be significant or insignificant. If the dollar difference is significant (which would be the case on a defined benefit plan over you life), then you should challenge this.

There is ample case law in California that is on your side. When the agreement does is not specific regarding the determination date then the default is case law, which is the date of seperation. In fact, CA case law says that property acquired after the date of separation is your separate property.

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Guest evguenir

CADMT, thank you!

That's what I thought too. According to California Family Code Section 771 the property division date is the date of separation, and the MSA has it. Do you think this is enough to prove the point at court? Should I hire an attorney or the case is so clear that I can defend myself?

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  • 1 month later...

No case is so clear that you can defend it yourself. It's not the opposing attorney that is the problem. It it CA's judicial system, which appoints "commissioners" without the qualifications, who are overworked and do not read case material, and generally shoot from the hip in court. So a great deal depends on how you present yourself in court rather than having case law or the law on your side. Remember family law is a oxymoron. A decent attorney can at least go through the (proper) motions to facilitate an appeal should that become necessary.

The valuation date in NY, CA and other states (but maybe not all) is typically the date of commencement of the action (separation). However, the law permits the parties to agree to anything they want in this regard.

There are two possibilities. Either her attorney understands this and is trying to see what you will agree to or her attorney does not comprehend division of pensions and retirement accounts. While the former is possible, I tend to think it is probably the latter. If you get an attorney, find one with some experiences in QDROs or use a QDRO firm as a consultant.

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