If you and your spouse are getting divorced, the date of separation can be very important. Generally speaking, assets or debt that were acquired after you separated are separate property -- not marital property.
For instance, perhaps you and your spouse stopped living together six months ago. You didn't officially file for divorce because you're busy and it takes time.
While you were apart, you got a bonus at work. Your spouse may want to split that bonus, saying it's marital property, but you want to try to protect it and show that it's yours alone.
Now, deciding when a couple separated while still legally married can be hard. Watch out for these potential counters from your spouse:
- Your spouse could claim that he or she did not realize you were serious. You mentioned divorce and your spouse moved out, but without realizing you were really separated.
- Your spouse may claim that you stopped living together as a trial separation. You just needed some time apart, but neither of you was planning on officially getting divorced. You were just a married couple trying to sort things out.
- Your spouse may note that he or she never filed for a formal change of address. Yes, your spouse rented an apartment temporarily, but you technically still lived together. He or she thought the entire time that you'd eventually move back in together and fix your relationship.
As you can see, really defining the end of the relationship can be tough, but it's very important in a high-asset divorce. It could have a drastic impact on the property division process and it's important to understand how all these little details are relevant.
Source: Forbes, "Why Divorcing Women Need to Pay Careful Attention to the Date of Separation," Jeff Landers, accessed Nov. 27, 2017