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Question on Epstein credits on apartment after wife demands move out

San Diego, CA |

In California if I had to rent an apt post separation does that apartment expense qualify for Epstein credit? The community made the decision to take on the additional obligation so wouldn't the spouse that pays for the apartment have a claim against the community for 1/2 repayment of that expense?

Attorney Answers 2


Theoretically yes, as long as it was agreed to.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.

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Epstein credits are discretionary, so the court is not required to grant them, and many times decline to do so if the post separation payment by the who incurs the expense is made "in the nature of support" (ie in lieu of paying the other person money the court might have ordered). But in most divorce cases, Epstein reimbursements are allowed when one side uses separate property money (eg they earned it after separation or owned it before marriage, etc) toward a debt that existed before separation. California laws say that virtually everything acquired by either spouse from the day they marry until the date they separate, including assets and debts, is community property. But the assets, debts and income a person receives before the marraige or after the separation is the separate property of the one who acquired it. Since it would be inequitable and therefore unfair to force one person to use their separate property funds to pay off a bill that was created during marriage (because they are both responsible to pay it), courts allow the person who can prove the debt was created before separation but paid after separation to get back half of what they paid. Otherwise one person would benefit at the expense of the other person. However in your example the cost of the hotel only arose after the separation. It is a post separation separate property expense being paid with post separation separate property income and not an Epstein. But you won't get it for another reason, namely the community derives no benefit from the payment of this debt. Since you alone enjoy the temporary and exclusive use, possession and control of the premises, and since you have to stay somewhere, and you have to pay rent wherever you are living, then your sole use of the apartment would offset or defeat the request to make the other person pay for half of your rent expense.

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Thanks Richard - very helpful. I just want to make sure what happens here is equitable and avoid being hit twice for the community obligations carrying cost AND temporary support. It seems that if I only request credit for the community debts and for my paying for her to use property to her exclusive advantage I'm making a reasonable claim. Correct?

Richard Glenn Freed

Richard Glenn Freed


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