Similarly, upon separation each spouse is no longer liable for the debts of the other spouse.
The community estate is liable for a debt incurred by either spouse "during marriage".
The court pointed to the “unusual” nature of the relationship and the circumstances surrounding the marriage.
The court found that the marriage lasted for two years and eight months (from August 2010 through April 2013) and ordered the husband to pay ,750 in monthly spousal support (through August 2, 2014) based in part on the length of the marriage. The court of appeals reversed, finding that a judgment of legal separation is “res judicata” on the issue of the date of separation.
This case is a good example of the challenges parties often face when considering a divorce or legal separation.
While it is an unpublished opinion, the court’s reasoning may serve to inform future cases in this jurisdiction.
Under California law, the date of separation is significant for a variety of reasons.
In June 2013, the husband sought to modify spousal support, requesting that it terminate at the end of that year.
Therefore, the lower court lacked the discretion to find that the date of separation occurred on any other date after the judgment was entered.
If the husband wanted to modify the support order, he would have to provide a showing of “changed circumstances” in accordance with California law.
During marriage "does not include the period during which the spouses are living separate and apart before a judgment of dissolution ... An exception exists as to "necessaries" except to the extent that the parties are living separate by agreement and whether or not support is stipulated by that agreement. Separation is of critical importance to the expanding interpretation and growing field of the law of fiduciary duties.
The duty of confidentiality that arises because of the marital relationship by legislative fiat (Family Code section 721) and which gives rise to major exposure for the conduct of spouses with regard to property and money, ceases at separation - meaning spouses no longer have the expectation and right of relying upon one another as trusted partners.