Tinero, Aharonov and Associates Tinero*, Aharonov and Associates A Family Law Practice, LLP

* Ellen Friedman Tinero has retired from the firm


Family law issues due to living separate and apart in one house

In California, the law distinguishes between separate and community property of the spouses. The California Family Law Code states that property acquired by spouses during the marriage is under the community property category. So, if a couple has separated but is not technically apart -- that is, they are still living under the same roof -- where is the line drawn for the property division for a divorce?

A California couple was married in 1993, separated in 2006 and divorced in 2008. However, they wanted to stay together to a degree for the sake of their children. They remained in the same home until 2011, but they maintained separate rooms and bank accounts since 2006. The wife had high earnings after 2006 and wants to keep her earnings separate.

The California Supreme Court took to the literal reading of the original 1870 legislation, ruling that apart meant the couple needed to be in separate locations for the property and earnings to be considered separate. Therefore, the earnings of the individuals remained community property until the woman moved out. There are situations where a couple may need to remain in the same house, though they are obviously no longer together. Individuals may benefit by seeking guidance concerning the applicability of the law to their circumstances before they commit to such a situation.

There are a multitude of laws when it comes to family law issues in California and elsewhere. It is not necessarily easy for couples to understand the intricacies of these rules. When separating or divorcing, the parties would be wise to each seek legal assistance from a lawyer who is experienced in these issues.

Source: sierrasun.com, "Family law: Spouses 'living separate and apart'", Jim Porter, Sept. 3, 2015

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* Ellen Friedman Tinero has retired from the firm