Separate and Apart

July 20, 2015

What Does it Mean to Live "Separate and Apart"

In Re Marriage of Davis (Cal. Supreme Ct. - July 20, 2015) attempts to define that essential distinction in California Family Law.

For purposes of community asset and debt division, most simply put we look to when the parties separated -- that is when they knew the marriage is over and began to live separate (and apart) lives.

But in today's world of tight finances, ever increasing housing costs, and the rising cost of child care, often it's not practical for families to live in physically different homes.

Does it matter if even while living under the same roof the parties live entirely separate lives as did the Davis's? The case of In Re Marriage of Davis doesn't necessarily give us more clarity. While the simple ruling that parties living together cannot be "separate and apart" for purposes of Family Code 771 seems clear, the justices discuss at length the ways in which the parties in Davis lived entirely separate lives.

So while technically this ruling clears up the strict reading of the code, it seems an impractical ruling in today's current economy -- particularly for those couples who aren't each individually wealthy enough to live in separate homes (which I wages is the vast majority of those living in the Silicon Valley).

For a full reading of the opinion click here http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S215050.PDF

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