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Why is the Date of Separation a Critical Date in the Divorce Process

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2019 | Divorce

Why is the Date of Separation a critical date in a California or North County divorce?  A fairly recent Court decision and new law has clarified this critical issue.

The “Date of Separation” is legally the day when the “community” between the spouses ends, and the parties are able to engage in financial matters and decisions as individuals.  The Date of Separation is the date a “complete and final break” in the marital relationship occurred.  The Date of Separation is a critical date and is established by two events:

1. One of the spouses has expressed their clear intent to end the marriage, and
2. The conduct of the spouse from that date forward is consistent with their intent to end the marriage.

Spouse’s have a legal duty to one another during the course of marriage and throughout the divorce known as a “fiduciary duty.”  This literally means they must act and make decisions with the other’s best interests at heart.  Every penny spent out of joint or marital accounts up to the Date of Separation must be accounted for.

The Date of Separation a critical date in the divorce process as it impacts many financial aspects of your divorce.  Once the “Date of Separation” occurs the nature of each former spouse’s income and future property acquisitions change.  It is also a critical date for the calculation of spousal support as the length of the marriage is considered to be the date of the marriage to the date of separation.

Community property in California is a key concept and issue to understand.  All property, assets and liabilities obtained during the marriage are considered to be community property and generally speaking they are to be divided equally and fairly.  If you open a separate account prior to the Date of Separation that money is still community property.

Once the Date of Separation occurs and actions follow intentions, the parties cease to be a “community.”  The money they earn from that point forward is considered to be “separate” property and  is no longer a community asset.  They are free to make their own decisions regarding their “separate” financial resources and assets but must continue to exercise their fiduciary duty when handling community funds and property.

This is another reason it is so important to do extensive planning and strategizing before filing for a divorce.  If you are considering a divorce in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside, Vista, Rancho Santa Fe, Escondido or anywhere in North County we invite you to review the recommendations of our clients and the legal industry and contact Burke & Domercq or call 760-389-3927 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Learn about the important steps you should be considering, and the importance of establishing (or delaying) the date of separation.  There is a lot riding on this important event, and it is important to have a clear understanding so that you may make beneficial decisions and protect your interests.