One of the fundamental pieces of information that your family law lawyer will need from you is your “date of separation” or when you and/or your spouse made the decision to part ways from your relationship. This is usually one of the first questions your lawyer will ask you in your consultation. Sometimes, but not always, the date of separation or “valuation date” is the date one partner leaves the home, other times it is the date the parties began living separately, even while under the same roof.
Part I of the Family Law Act defines “valuation date” as the earliest of five possible dates:
1. The date the spouses separate and there is no reasonable prospect they will resume cohabitation
2. The date a divorce is granted,
3. The date the marriage is declared a nullity
4. The date one of the spouses commences an application based on subsection 5(3) (improvident depletion) that is subsequently granted or
5. The date before the date on which one of the spouses dies leaving the other surviving spouse.
Usually, our client’s separation date is when the spouses decide to live separate and apart. Sometimes, the reality of this situation is that the couple will continue to cohabit until a later date. Some indicators of living separate and apart are not sleeping in the same bed, not telling others they are together, and not attending social outings together.
This date can become very important in the family law context as it will be the date upon which valuing any assets for equalization will stem from, as well as it may be the date that any child or spousal support obligations begin.
When posed with this question, you should think when either as a couple you decided when the marriage should end, or when one party expressed their desire to end the relationship, as this could be very significant to any family law proceedings