Divorces and Your Finances: Why Your Date of Separation Is Important

When you get divorced, you and your ex will need to come to an agreement about property division. This is often one of the most stressful parts of divorce cases: the longer you are together, the more assets you accumulate. Untangling these assets can be an overwhelming task.

The date of your separation is important, because it helps the court determine which assets are separate property, when you might be liable for spousal or child support and more. Here’s an overview of why you’ll need to know the date of separation if your attorney is to be able to assist you to the fullest possible extent.

What is the date of separation, and why is it important?

In Missouri, there are no formal separation requirements, but the courts do require that you wait at least 30 days, living separately, before a divorce can be granted. Generally speaking, the date of separation is when the two of you started living “separate and apart,” physically and financially, intending to end the relationship. You may or may not have filed for divorce papers at this time.

In some cases, one spouse may not move out. They may, instead, move into another room in the house or start separating their finances. Other times, one person may move out without having the intention of ending the marriage, but over time, they decide that they’d like to get a divorce. Your attorneys and the court will determine when the official intent to separate began.

The reason the date of separation is so important is that it affects everything from the official length of your marriage to what portion of your income is still considered marital property. (The official length of your marriage determines whether you’re entitled to spousal support.)

Property division

When you’re married, all of your accumulated assets—including your income—are generally considered marital property. When you separate with the intent of divorcing, the assets you acquire from that point on are considered separate property. Unless you have taken specific measures to keep normal marital property separate, you’ll need to divide the property equitably after divorce. Knowing the date of separation will allow the court to calculate whether an item or income is marital or separate property. If you win the lottery before your official date of separation, sorry—you’ll need to share that with your ex.

Child and spousal support

In Missouri, child and spousal support are negotiated in the divorce agreement. However, courts may award temporary child and spousal support until the divorce is final—this is helpful if you’re embroiled in a case that drags on for years. In this case, the date of separation is important because the court will often award support starting from that date.

Ultimately, it’s important that you make a clear separation—and record the date on which you did so—so that your marital property and support obligations can be calculated properly. If you need assistance with your separation and divorce, talk to an attorney right away. Call Maynard & Joyce, LLC for a consultation.