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California court answers question about separation before divorce

The events that precipitate divorces can play out quickly or may develop over long periods of time. A single event may be enough to tear Stockton spouses apart; nagging issues between a husband and his wife may also slowly deteriorate a long-term relationship. Whether their relationships end quickly or over time, many couples endure periods of separation before finalizing the ends of their marriages.

Very recently the California Supreme Court made an interesting ruling about the period of time that precedes a divorce. The case arrived at the high court after a disagreement arose between a husband and a wife regarding their community and separate property. The couple lived together for a period of years and in the same household before residing in separate locations and finalizing its divorce. The wife claimed that her earnings should be separate property for the entire time of their separation including the time that they lived in the same home. Though she retained the shared residence as her home, the wife traveled a great deal for work and was only at the home on weekends. The husband contended that because they were still living together, the wife's earnings should be classified as community or shared property.

California's high court ruled that for a couple to claim separate property, the individual spouses must live in separate residences. It rejected the wife's contention that the income that she earned while the couple ostensibly lived separate lives under the same roof should be her own property. The husband was victorious in his claims and may be able to secure a share of his wife's income for the period of time when they continued to live together.

This case clarifies an interesting rule regarding the time a couple must spend together before it may officially bring about a divorce. The length of time that couple stays living under the same roof can apparently affect whether earned income is the community property of both parties or the individual property of the earner. Readers of this blog who have more questions about this subject or others related to separation and divorce may consult with family law attorneys to have their particular inquiries addressed.

Source: pleasantonweekly.com, "State Supreme Court rules divorcing spouses must live apart to claim separate property," July 21, 2015

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