What Constitutes Separation And Why Is It Important?
The date of separation is important in divorce proceedings as it terminates a married couple’s economic union.
The following are specific examples of why establishing the date of separation is important in a divorce action:
- the date of separation may determine whether an asset is marital or non-marital , as most items obtained after the date of separation are defined as non-marital and are considered the separate property of the person who purchased it;
- the date of separation may determine the value of a marital asset, as all contributions made to a retirement account after the date of separation are defined as non-marital and the separate property of the individual owning the retirement account;
- the date of separation may determine whether or not grounds for divorce have been established in a Section 3301(a)(2) fault ground divorce, as any infidelity committed after an established date of separation will not constitute a ground for divorce; and
- the date of separation may determine whether or not grounds for divorce have been established in a Section 3301(d) divorce action, as the initiator of the divorce action must prove that one year has expired since the parties’ date of separation in order to establish grounds for divorce.
In Pennsylvania, a Husband and Wife may continue to reside in the same house, together, pending the finalization of their divorce proceedings, and still be viewed by the court as living “separate and apart.” The couple can establish such a separation by demonstrating the following actions:
- sleep in separate bedrooms and refrain from sexual contact with the other party;
- cease celebrating holidays together or going on vacation together;
- cease performing household tasks for each other, such as laundry and preparing meals; or
- File a complaint in divorce, indicating what you believe to be your date of separation.
If you have a question about whether or not you are separated and the consequences of such upon your divorce, you should confer with any attorney to understand your rights.