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Date of separation is important issue because everything a party earns and accumulates after the date of separation is considered separate property.  Basically, from date of marriage to date of separation, everything acquired by the parties is considered community property, except for a gift or inheritance.  A party should, therefore, review this checklist and gather documents and witnesses to support the date that party asserts as the date of separation. It is an important date.


The date of separation can affect the extent of the parties’ interests in retirement accounts, businesses, debts, and other property interests as well as the length of time a party may be eligible for spousal support.  It is a very important determination and, at a minimum, the  following factors should be considered in determining the date of separation. 

  • When did spouse move out of the family residence?
  • Did your spouse move back in? When and for how long?
  • What kind of contact is made with the spouse and how frequent is that contact? (Telephone calls, texting, staying overnight, dinner in the family residence, vacations?)
  • Does the “away” spouse have meals at the family residence? How frequently?
  • Does the “away” spouse use the family home as a mailing address or for voter, driver’s, auto, or professional license registration?
  • Do the parties take their vacations together, with or without the children?
  • Do the parties attend business or personal entertainment events together, with or without the children?
  • Has the “away” spouse sent letters, cards, gifts or flowers or celebrated special occasions with the spouse remaining in the residence?
  • Nature and frequency of reconciliation attempts, counseling, statements such as “I love you,” or resumption of sexual relations?
  • Did the parties continue to file joint income tax returns, acquire property together, or maintain joint checking accounts or credit cards?
  • Has either party denied to others that there was a separation?
  • Have the parties attended social functions together as husband and wife?
  • Does one party continue to provide spouse-like services or support (laundry, cooking, cash)?
  • Did the parties sign any writing, such as an agreement to live separately or for payment of support? If so, when. Do you have a copy of that document?  What is the date of that document?
  • Did the parties decide the marriage was over even though they delayed notifying family and friends, while at the same time taking all necessary steps to separate their finances and other affairs?
  • When did the parties’ separation demonstrate “the complete and final breakdown” of the marital relationship?
  • Any other facts and circumstances relative to your case, but not mentioned above:


Remember to begin to collect documents that will help to establish and prove the date of separation, as well as make a list of the names and contact information of witnesses who may help you to establish what you believe to be the date of separation. 

This list is suggestive only of some of the major factors affecting the date of separation, but is not an exhaustive list of all possible factors affecting the date of separation.