Does the Exact Date of Separation Impact Divorce Proceedings in CA?

family law firmAs plenty of our clients have experienced, marriages don’t always end in a clean-cut divorce and every step of the process could be rife with conflict. There are times where even the exact date of separation becomes a hotly-contested issue, with neither party unable to agree to the exact date of the official separation.

Which brings us to the main point of this post: does the exact date of separation have any impact on divorce proceedings in California. To put it simply, yes, particularly in regards to asset division. For today, we’re offering a quick overview of how the date of separation can shape how divorce proceedings shake out.

The Date of Separation Impacts Asset Division

As California is a community property state, this means that all assets and property that is acquired during the length of the marriage is considered shared property between both parties. In other words, as soon as both parties becomes separated, assets that are acquired after the date of separation no longer fall under community property. Thus, many will have a vested interest in ensuring that the established date of separation helps them keep as much of their share as possible, especially when it comes to business owners and those with a high net worth.

Establishing the Date of Separation – Objective vs Subjective

There are many factors that go into determining the date of separation, but couples who don’t disagree on the exact date can simply proceed with that assumption in place. When the date is contested, however, courts look at a variety of factors. Previously, they applied a subjective test and an objective test in order to best assess when the separation took place.

Objective test: This test centered on when the couple physically separated or moved away from each other. When both parties stay under the same roof (often for economic reasons), there needs to be significant evidence that a physical separation took place under that roof.

Subjective test: Here, the courts looked at intent and conduct to help establish when one or both parties decided to terminate the marriage.  

Under new 2015 guidelines however, the courts now need evidence that a couple lived apart in order to be able to claim separate property. Furthermore, the guidelines state that a person must keep some of their income separate from their spouse during the divorce proceedings.

As you can see, establishing the date of separation is not always so straightforward. For further information on this topic, remember that you can always contact us at the Jacot Law Firm. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation.