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Why is the date of separation important?

As was mentioned previously on the St. Charles Divorce Law Blog, the date on which assets are valued for property division in a divorce is am important decision-the value can change depending on the date chosen. The two options generally available to couples are either the date of separation or the date of the trial. Building on this, it is important to understand the importance of the date of separation in the context of family law decisions during the divorce.

So what is the date of separation? Different states define it in different ways. Some use the date one spouse physically relocates from the marital place of residence or from the marital bedroom to a spare bedroom in the house. It could even be the date one spouse informs the other about their intention to get a divorce. Other states consider the date of the separation as the date the final separation agreement is signed or the divorce papers are filed in court. Unfortunately, when the divorce is not amicable, a couple may not be able to agree on what the DOS is-one spouse may say they physically relocated but did not change their address or that they did not know the declaration of the intention to divorce was a serious statement.

One may wonder what the significance of agreeing on this date is. Most important, asset valuation will be considered from that day. In addition to this, it draws the line between marital and separate property-any property and debt acquired after the date of separation is going to be separate property. This means a bonus does not have to be divided and the debt does not have to be distributed.

Agreeing on the date of separation can be contentious at times, but it is an important aspect of divorce litigation, especially if it is a high asset divorce. It may be beneficial to have experienced attorneys on one's side to calculate the necessary dates and negotiate with the other side.

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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