The date of Separation is the point when either or both of the parties decide the
marriage is unsalvageable and they have intent to end it. This most commonly occurs
when something is said or an action is taken that states it is final or irreconcilable.
At the time of Separation for married couples, California law applies the
beginning of division of financial responsibility. California Law defines Separation as the
point where both parties knew the marriage was over.

The challenge with this is often both parties can not agree on the point when the
marriage was over; especially when the date of separation has a direct correlation on the
financial effects to both parties. All debts incurred after the date of separation are each
parties separate obligations. Any contributions to retirement accounts or pensions are the
employed spouse’s contribution.

Physical separation is not enough to prove the date of Separation. There are plenty
of circumstances where a couple lives apart for long periods of time without planning
on ending the marriage. The most important part of establishing the date of Separation is
intent. When both parties agree that the marriage is unsalvageable, the marriage is usually
over. If both parties say that the marriage is over, or take actions towards ending it, a date
of separation can be found easily.

The best way to establish separation is to file a petition of disillusion of marriage
or legal separation. The petition asks the date of separation. The courts will establish
a date of separation no later than the date the petition was filed and served on the
other party. In case the date of separation cannot be agreed upon, the petition gives a
minimum date. In order to protect your personal interests, you should file for a petition of
disillusion of marriage OR a petition of legal separation ASAP.

The Date of separation is the not the official end to the marriage. Spouses
still need to manage their responsibilities such as children or shared assets between
themselves up until the judgment of divorce; when written agreements are used to split up
shared property and regulate child support/custody.

Family code 70

(a) “Date of separation” means the date that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred, as evidenced by both of the following:

(1) The spouse has expressed to the other spouse the intent to end the marriage.

(2) The conduct of the spouse is consistent with the intent to end the marriage.

(b) In determining the date of separation, the court shall take into consideration all relevant evidence.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to abrogate the decisions in In re Marriage of Davis (2015) 61 Cal.4th 846 and In re Marriage of Norviel (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 1152.