Michael Moore and the Divorce Date of Separation
The documentary filmmaker, Michael Moore, is about to engage in one doozy of a divorce. Moore and his wife, Kathleen Glynn, married more than 23 years ago. One major dispute in the proceeding is the determination of the date of separation.
Before I go into more detail, Moore and Glynn’s case is out of Michigan. Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state whereas Arizona is a “community property” state.
While I assume some of the disputes discussed will deal with similarities between the laws of Michigan and Arizona, Michigan could, and likely does, have very different views on how some issues should be resolved.
The couple differs as to when they separated. Moore claims they separated in August of 2010, and Glynn says the couple separated when Moore filed for divorce in June 2014.
That’s almost a four year difference in separation. Now, in Arizona, the difference of four years could mean millions of dollars owed to Glynn.
The date of separation is important because it determines the time spouses’ common property interests end. That is to say that any property acquired by either spouse after the date of separation is that spouse’s own, separate, property. In Arizona, the property acquired during the marriage before the date of separation is considered community property, and each spouse has rights in that property.
Determining the date of separation can be difficult. States differ as to what date is the cutoff date for property interests. Some states require a legal separation agreement or that divorce papers be filed with the court. Only then will a date of separation be considered.
Other states say that if an individual physically relocates from the marital residence, without a formal agreement, then that is a separation. Further, some states say the date of separation should be the day either party told the other of their intent to divorce.
In Arizona, the presumptive date of separation is the day the spouse is served with the paperwork for the divorce or legal separation.
Michigan uses somewhat of a hybrid approach. The state looks to when the couple physically separated, as well as to the intent leading to the separation.
Regardless of where you are, determining this date in any divorce is critical to case resolution and “success.” It’s not just the division of assets that will be determined by the date of separation, but debts, too. It’s not hard to imagine a couple expressing intent to separate, but failing to go through the steps to formalize the end of the marriage. They move forward with their lives and one begins to take on growing debt. In Arizona, along with many other states, unknowing spouses will likely be held accountable for those new debts acquired prior to service of the Petition for Dissolution.
In Moore and Glynn’s situation you’d assume that the parties’ primary concerns rest in assets. However, that’s not entirely the case. The couple’s fight also deals with debts and mistrust: The couple owns nine homes. One of those homes is a northern Michigan mansion that became a financial sinkhole. Yet, in comparison to the couple’s estimated combined wealth (ten million), it might not be that great of an issue.
Many celebrity divorces rest on the same dynamics found in everyday conflict-heavy divorces. This divorce is no different. Disagreement, debt and mistrust found its way into the relationship: Moore has almost 300 items listed on his trial exhibit list. He also demanded to know if Glynn had hired private investigators to track his movements.
Those sorts of actions don’t spell amicable.
If you’re considering a divorce or separation, it’s important to take a few things into consideration in deciding whether and when to move forward.
1. Review your finances to find out what property and debt actually exists that could potentially be the subject of dispute in a future divorce.
2. Assess whether you or your spouse could have income (or debt) in the foreseeable future that you might want to protect (or protect against) from your soon-to-be-ex?
3. If you are getting divorced to protect future anticipated assets (or to stop the financial bleeding), are you really ready to make the emotional and financial commitment of living on your own?
After reviewing these questions, if you feel ready, then speaking to an attorney could be helpful to you in figuring out the date of separation in your state and how that might impact your financial future.