When dealing with a divorce or separation from a spouse, determining the date of separation could be crucial. For example, if the value of an asset is being divided as of the date of separation (a bank account, for example), then the date of separation could be crucial if the balance goes up or down significantly. However, the date of separation may not be agreed upon by the spouses, and it can significantly affect property division, child and spousal support, and even the ability to bring a family law claim.
If the spouses disagree on the date of separation, the Court may look at several factors to determine which separation date is accurate:
- Whether the spouses lived in the same house or slept in the same bedroom;
- Whether the spouses vacationed together;
- How the spouses participated in joint social activities and the manner in which the spouses presented themselves to others;
- Plans for the future, including estate planning;
- The absence of sexual relations;
- The absence of communication between the spouses;
- Attempts to reconcile the relationship;
- The performance of household tasks and changes to routines;
- Economic support and dependency between the spouses;
- How the spouses conducted their financial affairs, including how they filed their taxes; and
- How the spouses engaged with their children.
The Court may consider factors beyond those in this list, and the presence or absence of any particular factor is not determinative. For instance, spouses may be separated but remain in the same house because of financial circumstances. It only requires one spouse’s intention to terminate the relationship. Both spouses do not need to agree that the relationship is over. The Court will objectively assess all of the evidence and determine if or when one spouse intended to separate and communicated that intention through words or conduct to the other spouse.
If you would like to book an appointment with any of our family law lawyers, please contact Heath Law LLP at 250-753-2202 or toll free: 1-866-753-2202.