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San Diego Family Mediation Center

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Community Property v. Separate Property

When people face a divorce, they are often clueless as to what they get to rightfully keep as their own separate property and what belongs to the “community.”

A simple definition of what is separate and what belongs to the couple equally is as follows:

“All assets and debts acquired prior to the date of marriage or after the date of separation is the separate property of the acquiring party.”

Now…what is the “date of separation?” 🙂

The date of separation is the date that you and your spouse have separated, from an objective point of view…i.e., would a 3rd party look at you two and think you are separated?  If not, then you have not hit your date of separation yet.

What If We Disagree on the Date of Separation?

This can be tricky. Sometimes one person may say that the moment they said the word “divorce” is the date of separation. Another spouse may count moving out of the house as the date of separation. Disagreeing is common. You may need the help of a mediator to assist in figuring out the best way to state what is the date of separation.

Why Is the Date of Separation Important?

For some couples, the date of separation isn’t very important. Whether it is one day or one month difference won’t make a difference. However, for those in specific financial situations, the difference between a month or so can mean a lot of money that is counted as community property. It is best to discuss these matters with your mediator to determine the best course of action.