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“Date of Separation” California’s new divorce standard

Dear Client’s and Friends,

“Date of Separation” in a divorce proceeding is an important factor in the areas of property division and spousal support. Property and debts are divided fifty-fifty in California so long as they were acquired “during the marriage” (with exceptions such as inherited property). The term of a marriage therefore requires an official ending date, and note that that date is not when the divorce is final.

In 2015 in a controversial Supreme Court decision it was determined to be when a spouse left the marital residence. This decision was not realistic and in July of this year Governor Brown signed legislation defining “date of separation” as the date that a “complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred,” as evidenced by the spouse (1) expressing to the other spouse his or her intent to end the marriage, and (2) acting consistently with his or her intent to end the marriage.

Prior to this change, a spouse who is sleeping on the couch after declaring to the other that there has been a final break in the marital relationship would not be considered separated for the purposes of California law, resulting in community property continuing to be accumulated. For example, new business venture interests, pay bonuses and credit card debts received or created by either party would continue to be community property.

Spousal support (alimony) is in part based on the length of the marriage. It is temporary or permanent based on whether or not it exceeds or is under ten years. Parties that are close to this date and for financial reasons are sharing the family residence will have the term of spousal support payments determined by when one moves out rather than when it did in-fact have its “complete and final break”.

We continue to provide free phone evaluations for new legal matters. Do call us for family, real estate and business law matters to see if we can be of help and, of course, to discuss fees and out-of-pocket costs.



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