What you need to know about divorce

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Getting a divorce or just thinking about it? We can help.

What is divorce?

Divorce is granted by the courts to terminate a legal marriage. If you did not legally marry (i.e., have a witnessed service preformed by an individual licensed by the jurisdiction to officiate), you are considered spouses by law (usually referred to as common law marriage) but do not need to apply to the courts for a legal termination of your spousal relationship. However, such separation usually involves many of the same issues as in a divorce and can be just as complicated. Regardless of the type of marital relationship (legal or common law marriage), we can help you start and work through the process required to move forward.

Even though a divorce needs to be granted by a Judge, there are routes to obtaining a divorce that do not involve appearing before a Judge. You and your spouse can reach a separation agreement which can form the basis for the applying to the court to granting of a divorce (sometimes referred to as a “paper divorce” because a court appearance is not required.

What laws regulate divorce in Canada?

The primary law that regulates divorce in Canada is the Divorce Act. There are however several other federal and provincial laws that are apply and are directly involved in the process, such as legislation regarding support, children, family property, family maintenance etc.

Where do I start?

In order to get a divorce, you must have been separated from your spouse for at least one year. This does not mean you have to wait for a year before dealing with issues such as support, parenting schedules and property on a temporary (also called interim) basis. An interim arrangement can be reached in writing to deal with such details while long term arrangement is being worked out, and where you are unable to agree, an application can be made to the court for an interim order to be in place until reviewed by the court, a certain stated date, or until the issues have been dealt with either by agreement or by a Judge after a trial. If the issues are worked out by agreement, the terms can form a consent order and consent judgment and can also be incorporated into an application for judgment and issued by a Judge.

Immediately you separate (ideally, before you do), make a list of your family assets and liabilities, and document everything about your finances (i.e., bank accounts, investments, debts, RRSPs, and debit and credit cards, and so forth). Leave nothing out! This will ensure that you are aware of the property to be divided.

It is not necessary to decide how you would like to proceed before coming to see us.

We are here to provide information and answer questions, so you know your rights and options before making a decision regarding how or whether to proceed.

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