The date of separation makes a difference for property division in California. According to the California Courts, the date of separation determines if the property belongs to one individual or both spouses. Money or debt acquired after separation usually belongs to the individual spouse.
Unfortunately, the date itself is not always so precise. Sometimes the couple can point to the date they moved out. However, many couples decide to end their marriage but still live together. This makes the actual date of separation much less obvious.
California uses two tests to figure out a couple’s date of separation. They are subjective and objective tests.
1. Subjective tests
Sometimes couples live separately for a period but do not intend to end their marriage. One spouse might claim they ended the marriage and point to the date they moved out. However, the court considers both spouses’ intent before it agrees on a date. Individuals might exaggerate the negative state of their marriage to get an earlier date of separation. Still, a judge attempts to get as close as possible to the date of separation using the subjective test.
2. Objective tests
Though courts do not assume that spouses living apart from each other intended to end their marriage, it still factors into their decision. Additionally, living in the same home does not prevent a judge from declaring a date of separation during that time. Couples still might accomplish physical breaks in the same living space.
Courts will use the opinions of both spouses and physical evidence of separation to decide on a date. Keep track of your finances if you want to clarify the process, and keep records of significant events at the end of your marriage.