Why Is the Date of Separation Important in a California Divorce?

If you are heading toward divorce in Orange County, you have probably become familiar with how marital property and debt is divided through the rule of community property. This rule basically means that whatever assets, property, and debts you and your spouse have accumulated since the date of your marriage belongs to the “community.” That community is made up of the two of you as equal partners; thus, you will split the property on a 50-50 basis when you divorce.

What is your marital property? It is everything you have acquired over the life of your marriage. This includes:

  • Real estate, such as the family home and any other real property
  • Vehicles
  • Furniture
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Investments
  • Boats
  • Artwork
  • Collectibles
  • Pension and retirement accounts
  • Stock portfolios
  • All earnings
  • Personal belongings

All of the above, along with your debts, will be split between you and your spouse. These types of community property begin when you marry and end when you and your spouse separate physically with the intention of making that separation legal through divorce. For this reason, the date of your separation is important. Why? Because any assets, property, or debt you accrue after the date of your separation is no longer deemed community property. It is now separate property and no longer subject to the split. This separate property belongs to you only and cannot be shared with your soon-to-be ex-spouse in the divorce process. This also works in relationship to debt. Should your spouse run up any debts after the date of separation, you will not be responsible for those.

How Is the Date of Separation Determined?

The date that you separated and decided that your marriage was over can be used as a date of separation. If you and your spouse can agree on such a date, it will likely be accepted by the court. If you and your spouse disagree on such a date, then it will have to be decided on either an objective basis or one that is more subjective. The objective basis would be the date when either of you moved out of your shared home to live elsewhere as an independent party with no intention of returning but of dissolving the marriage.

If, due to financial constraints or other reasons, a physical separation could not be made, the separation date will have to be decided on subjective bases. The subjective basis would be when either you or your spouse decided that the marriage was irretrievably broken. This may be a more difficult and complicated date to prove but it can be done based on conduct and other factors.

Proving the date of separation is often a very important matter in marital property division in terms of protecting your property rights. If you physically separate from your spouse with the intent to divorce, whatever you acquire from then on should be officially protected against community property division.

Need Help with a Divorce Issue in Orange County?

If you need legal counsel in regard to a marital property division matter, any other divorce matter, or any issue related to family law, we urge you to get trusted legal counsel at Burch Shephard Family Law Group. You can work with Certified California Family Law Specialists who have reached the pinnacle of professionalism through education, experience, and demonstration of competence.

Contact us at (949) 565-4158 or online to book your initial consultation today.