- Monthly Mortgage & Credit Lines:
Generally speaking, you and your spouse will still be held responsible for any and all debts incurred during the marriage. In other words, the monthly mortgage statement will continue to arrive even after the DOS. However, to avoid future problems, it is not a bad idea to close all Joint credit lines upon agreement to formally separate. Or, at the very least, establish which party will take care of what obligation and formally write each creditor informing them of you and your spouse's intentions with respect to the outstanding debt. In this way you will most likely (but not always) protect yourself from any financial trouble your spouse may get themselves into after the DOS. This may also prove invaluable as you undoubtedly apply for credit in the future.
- Retirement Funds:
Most of the time, with respect to retirement benefits, the actual division of such an account will not come until the actual Date of Divorce. This would mean that the other spouse would be entitled to any growth monies accumulated during the period of separation. To fully understand and protect your interest in any particular pension fund, profit sharing program, or other type of benefit plan it is suggested that a copy of the benefit brochure issued by the company or actual retirement plan itself be obtained for scrutiny. One way in which to achieve this would be to contact the Human Resource Department at you or your spouse's place of employment
- Tax Returns:
The Date of Separation can also have a major influence on the decision as to how to file your Federal Tax Returns come time. In some states, the income earned by an individual spouse after the DOS is that spouse's alone and is therefore only the responsibility of that spouse. This would be an issue that might be best discussed with a professional accountant.
- Businesses and Investments:
If you are in a situation where there will ultimately be business or investment assets to be divided, again the DOS can have a dramatic impact. Many states will regard the value of a specific asset as that at the actual time of divorce, as compared to the date of separation. In other words, if a business value appreciates (gains in actual fiscal worth) greatly during the period of separation, both spouses will ultimately be awarded an equal share of that appreciation at the time of divorce. The same could be said for a stockholding that suddenly skyrockets in terms of price per share during the separation. Again, it is best to find out what specific laws apply to your state.
- Spousal Support or Alimony:
Finally, although, most people are not fully aware of it, the Date of Separation can affect the court's final decision with respect to alimony payments. Long-term marriages, usually defined as those lasting ten or more years from the actual Date of Marriage to the actual Date of Separation, are in many states analyzed closely. The dominant rationale in these states is that a non-working, dependent or lower-wage earning spouse is entitled to alimony for a longer period of time from the actual Date of Divorce in comparison to a situation where the couple's marriage was not defined as long-term. Again, these definitions vary from state to state, but, if you are in a situation where your marriage is not far off from being classified as long-term, you might just want to stick it out just a little longer to ensure receipt of a lengthier period of alimony
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