Question: What does the date of separation mean? Why is it important to determine the date of separation correctly?
Answer: Pursuant to Family Code Section 70, “Date of separation” means the date that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred, as evidenced by both of the following:
(1) The spouse has expressed to the other spouse the intent to end the marriage.
(2) The conduct of the spouse is consistent with the intent to end the marriage.
Why is it important to determine the date of separation correctly?
Spouse’s earnings and accumulations after the date of separation are his/her separate property. See Family Code Section 771(a).
The date of separation cuts off the acquisition of community property interests. This date can be extremely important at divorce cases.
At divorce, community property is generally divided equally between the spouses, while each spouse keeps his/her separate property.
Determination of the date of separation does not require:
- An agreement between parties; it suffices if one of the spouses expresses his/her intent to end the marriage and is consistent with this intent.
- Spouses to live in separate residences. People can have different financial situations and sometimes cannot simply afford to rent separate houses/apartments while they are going through divorce.
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