Whether you are married or common-law, your separation triggers legalities. For example, on separation, each party’s right to an interest in family property and responsibility for family debt automatically arises. Pensions are generally divided using the start and end dates of the relationship.

Given the nature of break-ups, the precise date the relationship ends may not be obvious. People may be undecided or still trying (or hoping) to reconcile. As soon as possible, make a note of the date you think was the separation date and what occurred that made you think this was separation. It may be the date you and your former spouse agreed the relationship was over. It may be the date one person told the other person: “It’s over”.

Your separation date may be the day you start living apart, but not necessarily. You can be separated and still reside in the same home. If you live apart for a reason other than breaking up (such as one person is working in another country) this will not of itself qualify as a separation for the purpose of ending the relationship.

If you think your relationship may have ended or is about to end, you may want to get legal advice to guide you regarding establishing the date.