What is Separation?
A separation is when a couple decides to live apart from each other because the relationship has broken down. The couple may be married, or they may be unmarried but living together like a married couple in a common law relationship. A divorce is when a court officially ends a marriage. Only legally married couples can divorce.
What is Divorce?
The Divorce Act is a federal law, which means that it applies across Canada. However, the processes for getting a divorce fall under provincial or territorial law. You can obtain a divorce if you have lived separate and apart from your spouse for at least one year. This can include situations where you have lived separate and apart under the same roof. You do not have to wait until you have been separated for over a year to commence the divorce proceedings. Although a divorce can be granted on grounds of adultery or cruelty, this is very rare and will be more complicated with no change to the outcome.
Getting a divorce can affect your legal rights. For example, after a divorce:
- you can no longer seek sole possession of your home;
- you may be no longer covered on your spouse’s health or dental plan; and
- you only have two more years to make a property claim.
In Ontario, the other laws engaged when you separate are: 1) the Family Law Act, which deals with property, spousal support, child support, and the matrimonial home; and 2) the Children’s Law Reform Act, which deals with parenting and child issues.
When a couple separates, many rights and obligations are triggered which require settling. For example, issues of child custody and access, spousal support, child support, equalization of property, and others. You can settle these issues by negotiating a separation agreement, engaging in alternative dispute resolution, or going to court.
Understanding your Rights during a Separation or Divorce
There are many couples who choose not to get married. In the event of separation of unmarried spouses, the parties do not have the same that married couples have, such as equalization of net family property, the right to occupy the matrimonial home, and other possible estate rights. The Family Law Act provides guidelines on how issues like negotiations, inheritance, child custody and access as well as division of property and support are handled among married and unmarried couples.
Why do you need a family lawyer?
With one of our Toronto family lawyers assisting you through the process of separation, you will receive expert legal advice and guidance to ensure your rights are protected. Separation and divorce can be highly emotional the parties involved. It is important that you obtain objective legal advice from a professional who is able and willing to give you honest and straight forward information.
Hire the right family lawyer
With the help of the right lawyer, you can begin exploring options that you may not have known existed. Our lawyers will help you assess all possible options for a resolution and weight the benefits of all of them. Most importantly, we work creatively to find opportunities for you to settle with the best possible outcome for you and your children.