Property is valued as of the date of trial
Over the past several years, many of us have had the all too common experience of watching the value of our retirement savings drop like a rock. Unfortunately, if that change in value happens between the time your case goes to trial and when the judge renders his decision, you probably will be stuck with the value of the assets as of the date of trial.
That is exactly what happened in IN RE: The Marriage of Shellie Ann Bangs and Cori Lee Bangs. Here, the value of Cori’s 401(k) dropped between the trial date and when the judge issued his decision. Cori asked the court to use the reduced value of 401(k) used instead of the value it had at trial. The trial judge refused and the Court of Appeals upheld the judge’s refusal; stating:
In this case, we find no reason to depart from using the date of trial as the date of valuing the 401(k) account. As the district court found, the value of this asset is “subject to daily changes in the stock market.” Had the opposite occurred and the 401(k) account increased in value, the value would still be established as of the date of trial. Furthermore, other assets may have decreased in value over this time, such as the real estate. Had the district court reopened the record, it would have either revalued one asset in isolation or allowed the parties to essentially relitigate the values of all the marital assets as of a new date. One benefit of using the date of trial to fix the value of assets is to avoid asset valuation from becoming a moving target. Therefore, we find the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Cori’s motion to reopen the record.