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The Significance of the “Date of Separation” in California

The Significance of the “Date of Separation” in CaliforniaIn the State of California, the “date of separation” has a significant impact on divorce cases. It is an essential factor in how the courts will determine the marital property is divided between the parties, calculate child and spousal support, among other important decisions. If you are facing divorce, understanding how the date of separation is established can be instrumental in protecting your rights and interests in your case. Speak to an established divorce attorney who can further assist you and help you protect what is yours. Southern California’s family law attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP can represent your case.

For many years, the attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP have successfully represented clients in contentious divorce cases. The law firm is exceptionally versed in California property division, spousal support, domestic violence restraining orders, and more. Schedule your complimentary consultation with the law firm today.

How the Date of Separation Will be Used in a Divorce Case

The State of California is a community property state, in which the income and property acquired by both parties throughout their marriage will be considered mutually theirs. Community property, however, also refers to debts collected by either spouse during the marriage. Consequently, all assets and debts are equally owned by the parties, no matter who acquired them.

Once a marital union is dissolved, the assets and debts shared by the parties will be divided between them, and the date of separation will help the courts determine which party is entitled to what. Generally speaking, the date of separation can be seen as the cut-off date, which will serve to determine whether the property and debt are considered community property or separate property.

All in all, any property acquired between the date of the couple’s marriage and the date of separation will be considered community property and will equally belong to both parties. On the other hand, the property acquired outside of the aforementioned timeframe will be considered separate property and will belong to either party.

Amicable Separations

The date of separation can seem simple to identify, and this is true in amicable separations. When two parties agree on a date of separation, a written agreement could clearly establish when the parties communicated or expressed the intention to no longer live as a married couple. When a written agreement is set, the courts will consider the date when divvying the assets.

Unfortunately, many cases are not this simple and amicable. There are many reasons that could complicate the matter, and separating parties will continue to live together, which could complicate the divorce process.

What State Law Says About the Date of Separation

Before 2017, California’s Supreme Court ruled that married couples who continued to live together cannot classify themselves as being legally separated. The court ordered that in order to determine a couple’s date of separation, the couple must be “living separate and apart”. In 2017, however, State Bill 1255 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, which states that the date of separation will be determined by:

  1. A party’s expressed intent to terminate the marital union, and
  2. The conduct of this party is consistent with the intent to terminate the union.

California courts will then take into account “all relevant evidence” when making a determination.

Hire a Skilled Divorce Attorney

The date of separation is an important factor that plays a significant role in many issues of a divorce. If you are facing a legal separation or divorce, the good news is that recent changes in the law allow you to continue living in the shared home without affecting your date of separation. To ensure all of your rights and interests are protected in your divorce, you must obtain the support of a qualified family law attorney who can champion on your behalf.

For many years, Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP has been the choice for families across Southern California when it comes to family law disputes. The law firm is exceptionally versed in a wide range of family law cases, including divorce, child custody, spousal support, visitation rights, and more. To schedule a complimentary case evaluation with Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP, consider completing the online contact form here.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.