TMZ has obtained Nick Lachey's response to the divorce petition of estranged wife Jessica Simpson, and the groundwork is now laid for a fight over money.
In his response, Lachey claims the date of separation was December 13, 2005. In Simpson's papers, she claims the date of separation was November 23, 2005.
Since the couple did not have a prenup (as TMZ first reported), income earned before the split is community property -- divided 50/50.
TMZ has learned that on December 5, 2005, Simpson received $850,000 for performing at a private concert in Cincinnati. If Lachey's separation date is accurate, he'd be entitled to half her fee. If Simpson's date is accurate, she'd keep the entire amount, as well as any other income she earned after November 23.
As for which date is correct, TMZ has learned Jessica moved out of the couple's house on December 13, 2005. In addition, Jessica and Nick were constantly e-mailing each through the 13th. Ultimately, it's for a judge to decide.
According to the documents, Lachey has reserved his right to ask for spousal support. He has not, however, asked the court to preclude Jessica from receiving support from him.