Why the start and end date of your marriage matters in divorce

The start and end date of your marriage both become very important when you are dividing the marital assets during a divorce. You need to know exactly when you started — and stopped — acquiring these marital assets. This determines what actually needs to be divided. 

Generally, marital assets are just those assets that you bought while you were married. Things you owned before the marriage are usually excluded unless you gave them to your spouse as a gift or commingled them in some way — such as combining your bank accounts after the wedding.

This can lead to some confusion. Say you bought your house before the marriage began. Even after getting married, you made the mortgage payments. You may think of the home as entirely “yours,” but your spouse may be entitled to some portion of its value based on the way the home’s equity increased during your marriage. 

The importance of your date of separation

Your date of separation may actually be more important than the official date on which the marriage ends. After all, your divorce could take months. You and your spouse may not live together during this time, meaning you both begin buying assets on your own. Say you do this for six months and then officially get divorced. You do not necessarily have to split assets with your ex if they were obtained during that period of separation, even though you were technically still married at that time. 

The division of assets in a divorce can be complicated

As you can see, even something as simple as asking “when did you get divorced?” can become more complex than you may assume. Be sure you are well aware of your legal options and the steps to take as you end your marriage without putting yourself in a disadvantaged financial position.