Understanding Legal Terms: Date of Separation
Author: Andrew Klausner, CFLS
You are looking at the Petition for Dissolution (or you are reading the Petition you just received from your spouse) and you see the paragraph asking for your “Date of Separation.”
“Date of Separation” is a legal term of art under California law, and over the past few years, there have been some attempts by the Courts and the legislature to address this incredibly important issue. Regardless of what you may have heard about “living under the same roof” or “that Marriage of Davis case,” the current state of the law is defined by California Family Code Section 70.
Family Code Section 70(a) defines “date of separation” as:
… 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 his or her intent to end the marriage;
(2) The conduct of the spouse is consistent with his or her intent to end the marriage.
Family Code Section 70(b) provides that “In determining the date of separation, the court shall take into consideration all relevant evidence.”
So, that is what the “Date of Separation” is, but what does that mean, and why does it matter?
The Date of Separation, once determined by agreement or Court Order, is the end date of the marital community. For example, any earnings or accumulations of a spouse after the date of separation of the spouses is the separate property of that spouse. The length of the marriage, when calculating whether, and for what amount of time spousal support (alimony) is to be paid is determined by the length of time from the date of the marriage to the date of separation. The responsibility for bills and expenses, the right to reimbursement from the other spouse for payments against those bills and expenses, and determining what portion of each spouse’s pension or retirement is directly affected by the date of separation.
In short, determining your date of separation is crucial.
If you are interested in a consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact SKT Law directly.