What is the date of separation?
It's the date that either person (husband or wife) no longer intends to resume the marriage and his or her actions are consistent with that "finality of the marital relationship." It generally includes living separate and apart, separation of finances, as well as either person no longer holding the other one out as his or her husband or wife. Sexual relations also is a factor. The ultimate test of course is "intent". What was either spouse's intent? To end the marriage or to take a break from one another before attempting to reconcile?
Why it the date of separation important in divorce action?
Once the parties are separated, money earned after separation, property acquired after separation with post-separation money, and debts incurred after separation are the separate asset or obligation of the person that acquired or incurred it. There are of course exceptions to the rule. For example, you cannot hord and hide your money during the marriage and then buy or invest that after separation in the hope it is separate property.
Another importance of the date of separation is spousal support (sometimes called alimony). If spouses are married for 10 years or longer before separating, California considers that a "long term" marriage. The 10 + years means if one spouse is the higher earner, he or she may have an obligation to pay lifetime spousal support. However, if the time between the date of marriage to the date of separation is less than 10 years, the higher earner's spouse may only be paying spousal support for 1/2 the duration of the marriage. The date of separation is of course only one of the factors the court takes into consideration when determining the duration of the spousal support. Sometimes however, it may be the most important.
To my readers: My name is B. Robert Farzad. I am the president of Farzad Family Law, APC. Our firm handles complex and simple divorce actions & related family law matters including those involving paternity, child custody and child support. Farzad Family Law handles cases throughout Southern California including Orange County, Los Angeles as well as Riverside & San Bernardino Counties. To contact me with any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us toll free at (877) 857-6500.