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How important is a date of separation in your divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Divorce |

When you’re headed for a divorce, at what point do you stop being “together” as a couple and start being “married but separated?”

It may depend upon who you ask. Georgia does not have a formal or legal separation process, but every divorce petition is required to have a date of separation – which is the time the marriage unofficially ended. 

Why does that date of separation matter?

Basically, the court will use the date of separation to inform its decisions about what is part of the marital estate and what is not. Broadly speaking, the things that one spouse or the other acquires after the date of separation are theirs to keep, whether that’s a debt or an asset. It may also play into how a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is interpreted.

It’s also important to note that every state has its own rules when it comes to what makes a couple “separated.” In Georgia, that is less about whether you and your spouse are living in the same residence and more about whether you behave as a couple – particularly if you continue to have sexual relations

A divorce can become contested if there’s a disagreement about the date of separation. In turn, that can drastically alter your expectations when it comes to things like property settlement and support. For example, if you receive stock options from your options after your separation, those might not be subject to division in a divorce – but a sexual encounter with your spouse before the divorce is final could change things.

It’s always best to seek informed guidance that’s tailored to the specifics of your situation.