Wail Sarieh
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Does Date of Separation Matter in California Divorce Cases?

Separation

You probably well remember the day that you and your spouse decided to get a divorce. But you may not remember quite so clearly exactly when your lives were officially separated. However, it is extremely important to determine the date of separation in California divorces cases for two reasons:

  • The date of separation determines when the line is drawn between community property and separate property. Any assets accumulated before the date of separation are considered community property; that is, property that will need to be divided during the divorce. Any assets accumulated after the date of separation are considered separate property and belong solely to the spouse who acquired the property.
  • The date of separation may affect spousal support payments. Spousal support payments are calculated using a number of different factors, including the length of the marriage. Whether you have been officially separated for four months or four years can have a significant affect on your payments.

Determining Date of Separation in California

Because the date of separation could greatly change both division of property and spousal support payments, it is no surprise that it is often a hotly contended issue. In fact, some splitting couples require a court date just to settle the date of separation issues once and for all.

While some marriages have a clear-cut date of separation, others are much more difficult to establish. For example, if spouses had been living separately for reasons unrelated to their relationship (such as for work) before they decided to divorce, the date could be difficult to determine. Likewise, if a couple decided to divorce but continued to share a home for months or years, several arguments could be made regarding the exact date of separation.

How does the court go about determining this date? You may be asked the following questions:

  • On what date did one of the two parties physically move out of the family home?
  • On what date did you begin to live apart physically, even if you remained in the same home?
  • On what date did both of you agree that your marriage was over?
  • When did you stop having a sexual or romantic relationship?
  • On what date did you inform family and friends that you were separated?
  • On what date did you begin to separate your finances?
  • On what date did you stop attending social events or taking vacations together?
  • On what date did one of you change your mailing address?
  • In which year did you stop filing a joint tax return?
  • Did you ever reconcile after a separation, only to separate again?

Strictly speaking, the date of separate is defined as the day that one spouse determines that the marriage will end in divorce and takes action regarding that decision.

Orange County Divorce Attorney

If you wish to get a fair divorce settlement, you need to make certain that your date of separation is correct. At Sarieh Law Offices, our California divorce attorneys will work with you and the available evidence to ensure that your case is treated fairly. To learn more about our family law services, or to request a free 45-minute consultation, please call our offices today at (714) 542-6200. Alternatively, you may fill out our contact form and we will be in touch within 24 hours.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh