February 13, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Separation dates are critical in California divorce cases
The date of separation is a crucial in California divorce cases because the date plays a key role in two important issues: community property rights and spousal support. As such, it can often become a matter of contention in divorce cases, even leading to separate hearings to determine the date of separation before other matters can be settled. California residents should understand the importance of the date of separation in divorce cases.
Community property rights
California is a community property state, meaning that all property acquired during a marriage is presumed to belong equally to spouses -- even if only one spouse's name is on the asset. All income earned by either spouse is also community property. Courts generally distribute community property evenly between spouses in a divorce property settlement
. The law also states that income and assets acquired by either spouse after living "separate and apart" from the other spouse are separate property.
Determining the date of separation is important for deciding what rights each spouse has to what property. Income earned and assets acquired after the date of separation are not part of the property division. This could be a cause for conflict if one spouse obtained substantial assets near the time the couple separated, as each spouse may name a different date of separation in order to have more of a claim to those assets.
Since the date of separation determines the length of a marriage, it can have an impact on spousal support awards. California law gives family courts indefinite jurisdiction over spousal support
matters in "marriages of long duration." The law also states that there is a presumption that marriages that lasted at least ten years from the date of marriage to the date of separation qualify as of long duration. Essentially, courts may choose to award indefinite spousal support awards in marriages of long duration. It may be in a spouse's interest to push the date of separation out in order to show that the marriage lasted at least 10 years in order to qualify for more spousal support.
Determining date of separation
In some cases, the date of separation is very clear, such as when one spouse moves out of the marital home after announcing intent to divorce. However, other cases are more complex. Some spouses continue to live together after deciding to divorce for financial reasons, and they may not both agree when the decision to divorce was final.
When spouses disagree on the date of separation, the court will apply a test from In Re Marriage of Hardin, using an "outsiders' viewpoint" to analyze the parties' subjective intent through their words and actions to decide when the marriage was over.
Trying to prove a date of separation can be complicated. It is best to have the assistance of a skilled attorney when trying to do so, as well as when handling the issues related to the date of separation. If you have questions about divorce, speak with a skilled California divorce attorney who can advise you about your options.
Article provided by Anthony C. Starks Law Office
Visit us at www.anthonystarkslaw.com