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The day of separation can mean even more than one thinks

It is never easy to make the decision to divorce. Ending what was once thought to be a lifelong marriage is emotionally draining and scary. Not only that, but divorce often means that other complicated legal issues such as property division, child custody and alimony are just around the corner.

However, it is important to note that the day an individual and their spouse choose to separate is potentially very significant. For one California judge, for example, the day of separation marks the day future incoming assets become non-marital assets.

California is a community property state, which means that when a couple separates the courts will divide, if not otherwise agreed by the parties, the marital assets 50/50 essentially. Marital assets are most assets acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage. Non marital assets are most often those assets acquired pre marriage or special items like inheritance designated to one spouse specifically.

Thus, the day a couple verbally agrees to separate might be the time the court marks the separation to begin even if it is before anything is filed with the court. This could mean income earned or other subsequently acquired assets from the day of separation going forward is a non-marital asset not subject to division of property later.

It is imperative one is aware of the law in their state regarding divorce even before obtaining a separation in order to ensure the right decisions are made. Furthermore, understanding how the process affects them presently and in the future will help shape their decision-making process. Those struggling with the divorce process and dealing with marital assets and property should seek independent guidance about their course of action.

Source: The Legal Broadcast Network, "Importance of Separation Dates in Divorce Cases, With Judge Eugene Hyman, Santa Clara, California," Feb. 9, 2014

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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