Legend No. 1 - Once I am married, it is all community property.
Wrong! California law allows you to keep your separate property. For example, your premarital downpayment on your marital residence remains your separate property.
Legend No. 2 - Alimony is for half the length of the marriage.
There may be some truth to this legend. If the marriage is under 10 years through date of separation, there is a statute that comes close to saying that. If the marriage is over 10 years, there  is great variation, depending on circumstances.
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John B. Sines, Esq.

342 State St., Ste 1
Los Altos, CA 94022

650.949.0825 fax

Family Law . General Litigation . Real Estate . Estates & Wills . Employment Disputes
Legend No. 3 - My spouse (the high earner) moved out, but he (or she) is
        paying the bills and giving me cash, so there is plenty of time to deal
        with it all later.
You are taking a risk. Earned income after separation is usually separate, so is your spouse paying you out community savings while building up his or her own separate account? Are you running up your credit cards with no binding  agreement as to who pays them off? Are financial records disappearing? Are memories of significant events fading? Is your spouse paying  you as much as the Superior Court would require? Documenting now and getting the process started may reduce the risk you are taking.
John B. Sines, Esq.