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The date of separation can impact marital assets

You may pay very close attention to the date of separation when going through a divorce. It's a huge moment in your life. Perhaps it made you feel free; perhaps it broke your heart. Either way, you know when that relationship ended.

Some people also pay attention to the date for social reasons. For instance, maybe they start dating again, and they want to be able to tell friends and family that the old relationship was really done before they started seeing someone else.

These reasons are important, but they don't have much legal impact on the case. Even so, trying to establish the exact date of separation, and not just some loose idea of when you split up, is important.

The issue is in dividing marital assets. Typically, courts realize that divorce is not an overnight process and your assets and debts can change significantly after you separate but before you divorce. Those assets and debts accumulated after the split don't have to be divided with other marital assets in most cases.

For instance, you move out, but you only owned one car as a couple. You buy a new car on your own. Your spouse generally has no claim to that car in the divorce. Or, your spouse goes on a spending spree in the two months between the separation and the divorce. You typically don't have to pay off his or her debts.

The key is to be as specific as you can in court. Know your rights, know your obligations and keep close track of everything until your divorce is official.

Source: Forbes, "Why Divorcing Women Need to Pay Careful Attention to the Date of Separation," Jeff Landers, accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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