Most people might not think it really matters when they separate from their spouse. However, the date of separation can play a big role in divorce proceedings, particularly when it comes to finances.
Officially, a date of separation is when a spouse decides they do not want to continue with a marriage. Separation comes into play when a couple starts breaking up financially. It does not technically occur when someone decides to move out of a house or apartment, or if a couple gets into a fight or argument. Dates of separation come into play when a couple decides their issues are too big and cannot be fixed or repaired, which means the marriage is significantly damaged.
Courts in California usually look at a couple’s living situation to see of they are actually separated. They will look to see if spouses are still living together, if they tell family and friends if they are together (or not), and if they maintain some sort of joint financial status, like filing joint tax returns. They will also see if a spouse has other relationships or partnerships to see if a couple has a clean break in their relationships with each other across all lines.
Cases get complicated when people list different dates of separation. This usually occurs when a couple splits up, but then reconciles and gets back together, only to split a second time. This becomes difficult because courts have to decide if there are two dates of separation, or if there was really just one.
This is a big deal when it comes to separate and community property because courts have to figure out if items bought, like a car, during a separated period should be seen as community property, or something that is separate.
Dates of separation are used in California to classify marriages as long or short term. The difference could mean a lot of money when it comes to spousal support, since long-term marriages in the state mean support can last until death or remarriage of the other party. In short term marriages, spousal support is usually just mandated for half of the total marriage time. This is a big difference, which is why the specific date of separation can be a big one.
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Those in California who are in the middle of a divorce settlement or process would be smart to enlist the help of a qualified attorney to help you decide when the actual date of separation should be. This will help classify the marriage as long or short term, which can make it a lot easier to figure out spousal support and what to do about other assets. It will also help you and your attorney figure out what items you own should be seen as separate, and if anything should be characterized as a community asset.
An experienced family law attorney will help you navigate through a divorce settlement and give you advice about what to expect in California courts. If needed, they can help you gather evidence to build a case for your side and represent you in court in a professional and expert manner. It is not smart to try to go through a divorce proceeding on your own since the legal rules and stipulations can be very confusing, making the potential for mistakes very high.
Do you have a question about separation in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!