A divorce is the end of a marriage, and it usually brings with it an end to many of the benefits of marriage. Things like joint tax filing, dividing household duties, and, of course, sharing a home typically come to an end along with the divorce. Every couple’s situation is different, and living separately while you go through the divorce process – or even after the divorce – may not make financial sense. Fortunately, California law does allow you to get a divorce while still living together – but it brings with it a few complications. The Ventura divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain the laws and complications surrounding living together during a divorce in California.
Does Someone Need to Move Out Before a Divorce in CA?
In many states, a couple seeking a divorce must live “separately and apart” before the divorce can be granted. In those states, the law requires this trial separation period as a stepping stone toward a final divorce. A majority of states, including California, do not have rules regarding whether spouses can live together during divorce, which allows you to get a divorce and still live together.
There are many reasons you might want to live together during a divorce. If one of you is the primary person responsible for bringing in a paycheck, it may be easier to continue to live in the same household than to move your spouse out or to pay for an apartment or other living arrangements while the divorce is pending. If your house is large enough or you have a free guest room, it may be simpler to “move out” of a shared bedroom but to continue living together, especially if you have shared children in the household.
In California, there is a 6-month waiting period for a divorce. No matter how you file, you must wait at least 6 months before the court will finalize your divorce and you will be officially divorced. During this period, a spouse can seek alimony “pendente lite” – spousal support granted on a temporary basis while the divorce is pending. This can allow them to continue to support themselves if they need help moving out and affording housing, groceries, etc. Alternatively, you could forgo these kinds of support payments by continuing to live together and providing direct support instead of support payments.
Staying in the same house during and after a divorce can be complicated. This is a very emotionally-charged time, and it may not be advisable to continue to live together in many divorce cases. However, in cases of divorce based on abuse or domestic violence, you should never consider continuing to live together. There are options for restraining orders for protection from abuse which could kick the abusive spouse out of the house, and orders for alimony could help support you in their absence instead of requiring you to stay in a bad situation for the sake of financial stability.
Problems with Living Together During Divorce
If you stay together during divorce, you may face complications from a few different issues.
First, you could face issues regarding your dependence and willingness to separate. In many divorce cases, lingering and staying together avoids many issues you may need to face as a couple. A divorce is a finalized end to the marriage, and continuing to live together may not help you move toward that separation. If you plan to live together because you are not sure that divorce is right for you, consider a trial separation period using legal separation rather than filing for divorce at this time.
Second, the divorce petition requires you to put a date of separation. This date is important for a few reasons, but the actual decision of what date to put can be an issue in and of itself. If you cannot decide on a date, you can put the date that you filed the petition, but you may be able to choose an earlier date. If you and your spouse had a meeting and decided to start filing for divorce, that date might work. The date when one spouse left the house or started sleeping in a different bedroom may also work as a date to put.
Third, the date of separation may impact your division of assets. In California divorce cases, you are expected to split assets 50/50. However, this only includes shared assets gained during the marriage. This means that anything acquired before the wedding or after the divorce is not split during the divorce, and you keep it as “separate” or “individual” property. Instead of using the date of divorce as a cutoff point, you can use the date of separation if that is earlier – but if you continue to live together and share a household and assets, the court may not be able to determine a legitimate date of separation. This means that any property acquired between the date you decide to get divorced and the date you actually move apart or finalize the divorce might still be subject to asset division.
Talk to Our Ventura Divorce Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
Living together during a divorce might make the most sense financially, but there are reasons it might hurt your case or make the emotional side of a divorce more difficult. Talk to one of our Ventura family lawyers about your divorce case and whether living together during your divorce is right in your case. To schedule a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 585-5056.