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Change in law makes living arrangements easier during divorce

The cost of living seems as though it only ever increases. For California residents considering divorce, the idea of future living costs can become quite intimidating. At some point, one spouse is usually required to move out of the marital home in order to prove that the marriage has indeed broken down. If the remainder of the family continue to live in the former marital home, however, the spouse who has moved out may still be responsible for payment of the costs associated with the home he or she has vacated.

In July 2015, there was a case in California where the State Supreme Court did not accept that a couple in the process of divorce, yet both residing under the same roof, could realistically be considered to be truly living separately. Despite various steps that had been taken to separate the couple's lives and finances, the couple continued to live – for at least part of each week -- in the family home the rest of the time with their two children. It was a period of almost five years from the time of legal separation until the wife was able to move out of the former marital home.

The State Supreme Court ruled that the wife's income remained community property until she vacated the family home permanently. A new bill, effective in January, will allow a couple to define the date of their separation as the time when the marriage had irretrievably broken down, whether or not they continue to live under the same roof. This can assist those who may need to save up for a deposit on a new home or whose children may find it easier to adjust to the transition in a more gradual manner.

This news may be of some relief to California residents who are considering divorce. Those who can remain amicable may not immediately feel a need to stop living under the same roof, especially if the alternative would adversely affect their finances. Where one has concerns about how best to proceed, it is advisable to seek the guidance appropriate to one's own circumstances in an effort to achieve the best outcome.

Source: sfgate.com, "New Calif. law says couples can live separately under same roof", Bob Egelko, July 26, 2016

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