California Court Discusses Separation Dates in Divorce Actions

In San Diego, California, absent a marital agreement stating otherwise, income earned during a marriage is considered marital property. As such, if a couple decides to divorce, it is crucial to determine the date of their separation, as any earnings accrued after that are considered separate. In a recent California divorce action, the Court discussed the factors evaluated in determining when the separation occurred. If you or your spouse wish to end your marriage, it is wise to confer with a San Diego family law attorney to discuss how the decision could impact you financially.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the parties married in 2007. The husband filed a divorce petition in June 2017. The parties disputed when they separated: the wife argued that separation occurred four months after they married, while the husband contended they did not separate until he filed for divorce. The case proceeded to a bench trial, after which the Trial Court adopted the husband’s reasoning. The wife appealed, arguing that the Trial Court failed to assess her conduct and intentions with regard to the marriage in consideration of the threats of deportation and domestic violence she received from the husband.

Determining When Separation Occurred in California Divorce Actions

On appeal, the Court declined to adopt the wife’s reasoning and affirmed the Trial Court’s judgment. The Court explained that the determination of the date of separation is an issue of fact, and it is established based on a preponderance of the evidence. When reviewing a Trial Court’s decision, the Court considers whether there is substantial evidence to support it, taking into account all reasonable and legitimate inferences.

When conflicting evidence is presented during the trial, the Court is bound by the Trial Court’s interpretation of the facts. In other words, it does not have the authority to evaluate the weight or impact of the evidence, assess witness credibility, or resolve conflicts in the evidence.

Here, the wife acknowledged that the usual review standard for determining the date of separation is substantial evidence. However, she contended that the Court should apply a de novo review in this case due to the need for independent interpretation and application of specific sections of the law.

The Court disagreed, noting that her arguments did not pertain to the interpretation of statutes but rather challenged the trial court’s analysis of the evidence itself. Further, the Court found that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s determination regarding the date of separation. Based on the foregoing, the Court affirmed the Trial Court’s judgment.

Contact a Trusted California Divorce Attorney

Ending a marriage not only impacts people emotionally but also has financial implications as well. If you have questions about how to protect your interests in a divorce action, it is smart to contact an attorney. The trusted San Diego divorce attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC can assess the facts of your case and inform you of your options for seeking a favorable outcome. You can contact us via our online form or call us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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