IF YOU ARE IN A DISSOLUTION, AND HAVE A DISAGREEMENT IN REGARD TO THE DATE OF SEPARATION, PLEASE BE ADVISED.
Recently, the California Supreme Court has overruled the Court of Appeals and established a new, different, and precise, legal definition of when you are legally separated. For purposes of dissolution, until such time as you are legally separated all income received by both parties and contributions to retirement plans are characterized as community property until the established date of legal separation.
In the past the Court looked at a number of factors to determine the date of separation. Even if you were living together, it was possible to determine an earlier date of separation even though you lived apart. The Court took into consideration whether or not the parties held themselves out to the public as being married, and such other factors as if you maintained joint accounts.
The Supreme Court has made if very clear, you are not legally separated until the date when you actually physically live apart. This ruling is definitely drawing a line in the sand, and the definition of legal separation is now well established.