New California Law Regarding Date of Separation Impacting Divorces

Pierre Domercq Divorce

A new law passed last year by the California legislature regarding the date of separation in a California divorce took effect January 1. It has already had impact here in North County and around the state.
The date of separation is an important component that is used in many facets of a North County or Carlsbad divorce, including:
The division of assets
Allocation of Retirement Assets
Allocation of Income and Debt
Spousal Support
The date of separation marks the point where a spouse is no longer entitled to half of the other spouse’s income, investment assets and retirement account technically ends. It also marks the date of division for the community’s liability for new debts. Debts incurred after that date are the sole responsibility of each individual party.
The date of separation is also used to determine the length of the marriage as it relates to spousal support issues. The longer the term of the marriage, the greater the amount of spousal support, especially for non-working spouses. It may also contribute to the question of whether that support will continue indefinitely (until death or remarriage) or if it will be shorter in duration.
The California Supreme Court had ruled (in re: Davis) that the couple had to physically separate to establish the date of separation. While the more obvious measure of the date of “physical separation” of the parties made things clearer from the Court’s point of view, it caused unnecessary hardship for many Californians.
So a new law was passed and officially took effect January 1, 2017 establishing the date of separation as “the date that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred, as evidenced by the spouse’s expression of his or her intent to end the marriage and conduct that is consistent with that intent.”
Perhaps there is no greater single issue with the financial significance and affect of the “date of separation” for divorcing couples here in North County. In practical terms the new law has been welcomed by many here in North County. Many couples do not have to go the expense of obtaining separate living quarters in order to establish the “date of separation.”