A question we are often asked in matrimonial property settlement disputes is whether the value of the assets at separation is the important figure, or whether it is the value of the assets at a later point.
Strictly speaking, the value of assets, if a matter proceeds to Trial, is the value of the asset at the time of the Trial (or mediation, if the matter resolves there).
However, the value of assets at separation is still relevant if there has been a change in those assets since separation. If the value has changed since separation the question is, why has it changed?
If the value has changed since separation simply due to market forces, such as the house value has gone up or down due to the economic conditions, then the fact that there has been a change is really irrelevant and the latest value, rather than the one at separation, is the relevant value.
If an asset has gone up or down due to the actions (either positive or negative) of a party then that change is very relevant and the Court can on occasions “add back” assets that have been wasted or diminished by a party’s activities, or adjust the percentages (upwards or downwards) based on the contributions, either positive or negative, that parties have made post-separation.
People who have done renovations, or improved an asset, must be given some credit for that (though not necessarily dollar for dollar). On the other hand, people can’t simply waste monies, or spend it extravagantly, and not have to in some way account for those actions.