Why Date of Separation is Important in a California Divorce

By | September 14, 2012

Most divorcing parties can agree on when they separated.  Maybe there was an event that was “the last straw” and one party demanded a divorce, or the parties cannot remember an exact date but know within a week or so when there was an irremediable breakdown in the marriage.  For some divorcing spouses, however, it is not so easy to determine the date of marriage.  Sometimes the parties simply cannot pinpoint the exact date they separated and they are too stubborn to agree on a date.  More often, however, the disagreement is really about money.

Because California is a community property state, parties will continue to acquire community property (assets and debts) while they are still married.  If the parties separate one day and the next day one of them wins a million dollars in the lottery, chances are there is going to be litigation over the date of separation because there is half a million dollars riding on the outcome.  Of course, it works in reverse, too.  If the parties are separated, generally the debts incurred by a party after date of separation are that party’s separate property.  It becomes a way for some to try to avoid paying their fair share of community debts.

Another reason why date of separation is so important in a California divorce is that spousal support for short term marriages is generally due for half the duration of the marriage.  When the couple reaches that magic number 10, their marriage is generally considered to be a long term marriage, with spousal support due indefinitely.  So the date of separation can be a point of contention for parties on the cusp of a long term marriage.  Of course, even short term marriages can hotly contest the issue – duration of support is a good motivator.

If you and your spouse believe you can come to an amicable divorce settlement with a little help from an Orange County divorce mediator  give us a call or contact us through our website.