I have been asked many times from clients whether the "date of separation" makes a difference in Pennsylvania Divorce cases. The answer is quite simple-you betcha it does.
No there is not a formal decree for separation in Pennsylvania Divorce law, but the concept of establishing the "separation date" is of ultra importance for the following reasons. The marital estate is defined as those assets that you obtain from the date you are married to the date of separation-as well as any increase in assets brought into the marriage up to the date of separation. Therefore, if a spouse expects to be awarded a big time bonus in the near future, it would behoove him to establish the "date of separation" at some time before he receives the bonus. Or, if a spouse brought a lot of stocks and bonds into the marriage, he might want to wait out a "bull market" or establish the date of separation in a "bear market." You might say - "no one would do that" - well, I have had many clients who have done it (they're happy) and I have had many clients that have ignored the repercussions of not paying attention to the significance of the "separation date" (they're sad - you can take a horse to water.... you know where I'm going with this.)
In essence, there is a concept of separation planning that all good lawyers should discuss with clients that are contemplating divorce. It's not dirty pool, just good divorce planning.
If you need advice regarding a divorce or separation, contact my Pittsburgh law firm, Gusty A. E. Sunseri & Associates.