When a couple separates, there is often a lot of hurt and pain to deal with.  Even though it may be difficult to do, getting legal advice shortly after a separation is good idea. 

Knowing your rights and obligations, as well as your options to enforce these rights and obligations, can help you to avoid problems later on. 

In this article we explain how delay can result in difficulty with identifying the date of separation.  You can also read more about other issues that may arise from delay, by clicking on the links in this article.

The significance of the date of separation

The date of separation is the date at which the pool of property will be determined.  That means everything that is acquired after the date of separation will be separate property, belonging entirely to the party who acquired it. 

Everything that is acquired during the relationship (that is after the relationship started and before the date of separation) will be relationship property that will be divided between the parties. 

Sometimes parties will disagree about the date of separation, especially if a lot of time has passed since the separation.  The parties may not recall what happened, or the parties may attach different meanings to the same events.

Where property was acquired, or lost, close to the date of separation, or the value of property increased or decreases after a separation, the parties may be highly motivated to dispute a date of separation. For instance, where party A’s income is more than party B’s income, Party B will benefit from a later date of separation.  

If the parties cannot agree on the date of separation, it could delay the division of property and increase the costs to get things sorted.  If the Court is being asked to help the parties decide the separation date, the parties will have to provide evidence.  The more time that has passed since the separation, the harder it will be to recall the events around the separation, and also to find evidence in support of a particular date of separation. 

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.




Jaenine Badenhorst
Associate Lawyer


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