You Might Not Actually Be Separated…

If you are legally separated from your spouse but are not living in different residences, then according to the Supreme Court of California, you should think again… because it turns out that you aren’t actually legally separated. This is a fairly recent ruling that should serve as a warning to anyone who is currently going through the divorce process.

The case involving the legal separation of Sheryl and Keith Davis was heard by the California Supreme Court after a lower court had ruled in favor of Sheryl Davis’ claim that they became separated when she notified her husband in 2006 that their marriage was over. However, the two continued to live in the same house until 2011, which was the time that Keith Davis claimed they technically separated.


A Court Ruling with a Big Impact

Between 2006 and 2011, the couple lived under the same roof, both caring for their children. They didn’t act like romantic partners but instead behaved more like roommates, even taking the children on separate vacations.

However, the court’s ruling makes it clear that the court is not in the business of determining what a “marriage” is supposed to look like. While some may consider the Davises’ behavior to be strange for a married couple, others may find it to be perfectly natural. Everyone has their own definition of what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like, as was clearly demonstrated by this couple’s individual takes on whether they were separated.

With the court’s ruling that a couple needs to be living apart separately in order to be legally separated, the court has effectively eliminated the need for judges to make these types of interpretations. Instead, if you want to be legally separated, one of you needs to move out of the house.


Why the Ruling Matters

When you get divorced, issues like spousal support and community property are decided. Any property that you acquired during the marriage, including homes, cars, assets, investments, and so on, is all community property that is likely to be divided fifty-fifty. The same is true for earnings from your job. However, once you separate, anything you buy or earn is yours exclusively. With that in mind, the legal separation date becomes incredibly important.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the amount of spousal support is determined, in part, by how long you have been married. If you become separated, remain living together, and then divorce five years later, the court will now view the time you were separated as part of the marriage. This time difference may entitle one spouse to more financial support.


Discuss Your Case with a California Divorce Lawyer

If you weren’t already aware of this ruling, you may need to make some immediate changes to your living situation if you are separated from your spouse but still living together. Anything that you have purchased or earned during this time—thinking it was your individual property—could be up for grabs in the eventual divorce. This makes it important to work with an experienced Rancho Cucamonga divorce lawyer.

To find out how this recent ruling could impact your marital situation or to discuss what to do next, call 909-466-7661 to schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Laurence J. Brock. You can also reach us by completing the contact form below, and someone from our office will contact you to arrange a meeting.

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