I have already responded to discovery request by my soon to be ex and filed Schedule of Assets and Debts. Is it OK for me to make any purchase like a vehicle or home before the settlement date?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
In California, the parties must exchange Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure with a Schedule of Assets and Debts at the beginning of the case concerning all assets and debts known at that time. Final Declarations of Disclosure are exchanged before final Judgment to reflect any new information obtained through formal discovery (e.g. the existence of additional assets or debts) and any changes since the preliminary disclosures were made (e.g. the subsequent purchase of a house or car, as well as any changes in value of previously disclosed items). It is important that any major purchases you make after separation are confirmed to you as your separate property in the divorce. While there is nothing preventing you from using your post-separation earnings to buy a house or a car, using community funds and assets (i.e. trading in a car that was acquired during the marriage) would violate the automatic Standard Restraining Orders that are applicable to all cases. You could also unwittingly be creating some complicated accounting and legal issues. I recommend that you put your financial life on hold and delay any major purchases until after a final judgment of dissolution is entered with the court and all property has been divided pursuant to the judgment.
This information is general and should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
Employment / Labor Attorney
I am going to change the practice area on your question so that you get a better pool of potential attorneys who will know the subject matter.
Good luck to you.
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.
Family Law Attorney
You can purchase anything you want. If you and your ex have agreed upon the date of separation, then it will probably be easy to determine if the item is your separate property. Even if you can't agree, then the court will probably set a date of separation upon trial that will preceed your purchase of these items. It will also depend on the source of funds used to purchase these items. But, I strongly suggest that you get counsel on this from an experienced FL attorney.