The date of separation is important in a divorce because of the impact it will have on a couple’s assets and debts. Courts often use this date as a determining factor in how to decide property division, spousal support, and reimbursements. Generally, when determining this date, courts consider a totality of the circumstances, including actions taken by the parties, such moving out of the marital residence, and intentions, such as filing for divorce, that establish a “complete and final break in the marital relationship.” If you had a pattern of breaking up and reconciling, the court will still likely characterize the property acquired during your on-and-off again relationship as community property, because there is only one date of separation to distinguish the end of the marriage.
How it Affects Property Division
Every state has its own laws as to how property and assets must be divided in a divorce. In California, all marital assets must be divided evenly when spouses end their marriage. Typically, the assets and debts accumulated during a marriage are considered community property. Anything earned or acquired before the marriage or after the date of separation will usually be treated as separate property, which is why the date of separation is so important.
For example, if you and your spouse separated midway through the year, but your spouse earned a bonus at the end of the year, the court may decide that half of your spouse’s bonus is community property if the bonus was for work expended during the first half of the year.
In addition, date of separation is also important for when one spouse’s retirement plan goes from being community property to separate property.
The date of separation may also affect spousal support in a divorce. For example, in California, if you have a marriage of “long duration,” that is a marriage lasting more than 10 years, you may be able to receive or obligated to pay spousal support to your ex-spouse until the supported party remarries, either party dies, or until further court order. If your date of marriage to date of separation is under 10 years, the duration of spousal support is usually limited to half the length of the marriage.
You should be aware that the date of separation is not used for valuation of two specific types of assets: businesses and real property. Those are valued at the date closest to trial.
Discuss the Details of Your Divorce with an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today!
If you cannot make your marriage work and have decided to move forward with a divorce, knowing the date of separation will be essential. At Kraft Miles, A Law Corporation, our family law team can provide the knowledgeable advice and fierce representation you need to protect your interests throughout this process. Our legal team has been guiding clients through some of the most challenging family law matters and is backed by a history of successful results, so you can rest assured your case is in good hands with us.
Reach out to our law office today at (818) 462-5076 to set up a case evaluation with a member of our team.