Colorado fans of movie director Michael Moore probably see him as an advocate for the downtrodden. But Moore and his wife, who are in the process of divorcing, are hardly proletarians themselves. Moore’s movies have made a lot of money over the years, which may mean a complex asset division process is in the cards.
Documents filed in the divorce case do not list specific asset valuations. But the high-profile couple is known to own substantial real estate, including nine properties in New York and Michigan. These include a condominium in Manhattan and a lakefront mansion in Michigan.
In any high asset divorce, asset valuation is an important part of the process. In Colorado, assets are generally categorized as either separate property or marital property. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage by either spouse, except property acquired through inheritance or gift. The court divides marital property between the parties on an equitable basis, which means in a manner that is fair under the circumstances, not necessarily equally.
Separate property is that property either spouse already owned before the marriage. It generally remains separate and goes back to the spouse who owned it. But any appreciation in the value of separate property is considered marital property which must be split. Valuing that appreciation can be a complex task, requiring an analysis of what the asset was worth as of the date of the marriage and what it is worth today. For a high-net-worth spouse going through a dissolution of marriage, having a trusted legal advisor who understands complex valuation issues is a big advantage.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “Michael Moore’s Michigan mansion at stake in divorce case,” Trey Barrineau, June 5, 2014