Family Law Corner: How Will Baywatch Beauty Spot Her Date of Separation With So Many Reconciliations on the Horizon?

Former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson has filed for divorce again—for the third time—from professional poker player Rick Salomon.  Anderson and Salomon first married in 2007 and split two months later when Anderson filed her first Petition for dissolution.  The parties annulled that marriage two months later. Fast forward seven years to January 2014 and Salomon and Anderson remarried. This time the marriage lasted a whole six months before she filed for divorce again in July 2014.  Interestingly, her date of separation was July 3, 2014—two days after Salomon won 2.8 million dollars in a poker tournament.  Less than a month later, the parties were photographed kissing in Malibu and Anderson subsequently withdrew her Petition. Finally, Anderson filed her most recent Petition on February 12, 2015 stating that February 11, 2015 is the date they separated.

The date someone files a Petition for dissolution does not determine his or her date of separation for purposes of determining community or separate property. Pursuant to In re Marriage of Baragry (1977) 73 Cal.App.3d 444, 448, date of separation is defined as "... a parting of the ways with no present intention of resuming marital relations.” Date is separation is important because once married people are separated earnings and accumulations are the separate property of the person earning/receiving them. (Family Code §771). Once parties have filed for divorce and are moving toward a marital settlement (or trial), they have likely established their date of separation.  However, in cases like Anderson’s, where multiple reconciliations have occurred, it may be more difficult to confirm an actual date of separation for purposes of dividing the community estate.

In such cases, the spouse seeking a later date of separation will likely claim that the periods of reconciliation showed that they had a “present intention of resuming marital relations.” Baragry, supra at 448. Assets (and debts) acquired during this reconciliation would go to the community. However, if the reconciliation failed, the assets and debts acquired by each spouse between the original date of separation and the date the attempted reconciliation began should be treated as the separate property of the spouse who earned them.  If Salomon had any case to make about the 2014 date of separation for purposes of asserting the 2.8 million was his separate property, he is out of luck now given the passage of time.  He may think twice about giving Anderson a fourth chance given what may be at stake.