When you first decide to get a divorce, you may be at the end of a long rope of a weakening relationship. Divorces can take some time while you are working out negotiations, but during this time you may be living separately and beginning your own new lives. Temporary child and spousal support may be ordered during this time and you may be restrained from taking any significant financial actions you take using community property or assets.

When you first begin divorce paperwork, you may be asked what your date of separation was. If you have tried trial separations before or had a struggling relationship for a long time, the official date of separation for divorce purposes would be the date either you and your spouse no longer were living together and you were both in agreement about ending the marriage with no chance of reconciliation. This could be the date you hired your divorce attorney or the date you moved out.

The date of separation is a date of no return, so to speak. It is meant to mark the day you and your spouse agreed to end the marriage and this date can be very significant when evaluating case facts. Sometimes spouses try to dispose of income or assets during the divorce process to preserve certain assets, thus putting the other spouse at a financial disadvantage during property division.

The date of separation, when following a paper trail, can identify funds spent or financial actions taken after the couple decided to get divorced. If these actions were not in the other spouse’s favor, the date of separation can allow a judge to hold that spouse responsible for his or her actions.

For example, if a couple decided on January 1, 2015 that they wanted a divorce and there was no chance of reconciling the marriage and one spouse went out and bought a new car shortly after, they would be held solely responsible for the car. If they bought it with community funds, they would have to pay the spouse back for their share of those funds. If the car was bought prior to the date of separation with community funds, the car would be considered community property and both parties would be responsible for paying for the auto loan or, if paid off, entitled to half the value.

Some divorces can include complex scenarios like this when one spouse is taking reckless financial action with community funds. If this is the case, consult with an experienced family law attorney right away to ensure you receive all you are entitled to in the divorce.

Are you in the Los Angeles area and have questions about the divorce process? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has experience handling many complex divorce issues in Los Angeles County. Attorney Mark H. Karney can listen to your story and ensure you take the right steps towards a favorable divorce outcome. Call our Los Angeles office at 310-564-5710; email us at intake@cfli.com or contact us through our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of Los Angeles’s premier family law attorneys.