Separation and divorce are emotionally difficult processes. Separating couples often don’t know where to start. Clients at Holam Law PC can be assured that our legal team can help them navigate through the often confusing technical requirements to obtain a divorce in Ontario, while also helping them to prioritize and resolve other paramount concerns, such as child custody and parenting schedules for their children, child and spousal support and property division. Often, the practical realities of how separating couples will move forward with their daily lives, such as parent their children and continue to pay bills are issues at the forefront of clients’ concerns. We can help alleviate your stress by guiding you through the legal process with compassion and personalized service.

Separation vs. Divorce

Separating couples are often unable to accurately differentiate between the terms “separation” and “divorce”. Separation applies to both married couples and common-law couples. Divorce only pertains to married couples. In Ontario family law they have distinct definitions, both of which are obviously important when a client wishes to obtain a divorce.

Separation refers to the physical and emotional act of separating from a spouse, that is the actual breakdown of your marriage or relationship. The date of separation refers to the date of the breakdown of your marriage or relationship, which involves the parties making it known to their family, friends and general public that they have ended the marriage or relationship, with no further opportunity to reconcile that relationship. Parties can mutually agree on the date of separation. However, when spouses cannot agree, this becomes a legal issue and the legal reasons for divorce must be determined, in such situations it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced family law lawyer. The date of separation can affect other legal issues, such as property division and spousal support and even your Canada Pension Plan credits.

Divorce is the formal dissolution of the marriage and must be pronounced by the Ontario Court. In Ontario, a separated couple can obtain a divorce one year after their date of separation, without having to specify the reason for the divorce. This is why in the general public, Ontario is known as a non-fault based jurisdiction. However, in some circumstances, a spouse may wish to obtain a divorce before one year has elapsed from the date of separation. In such cases, the spouse who makes a claim for divorce must also specify the reason for seeking this relief, as being either adultery and/or cruelty, and must prove on a balance of probabilities that he or she was subjected to adultery and/or cruelty. This is a legal threshold that must be met. It is therefore highly recommended that advice from and representation by an experienced family law lawyer is sought before embarking on this process.

Opinion of Foreign Divorce

Separation and divorce can often bring new beginnings. When parties wish to remarry in Ontario but obtained a divorce in a foreign jurisdiction, they might find themselves in a position where a legal opinion on the validity of their foreign divorce is required before they can apply for a marriage licence in Ontario. Our team at Holam Law PC can assist you with any legal opinion required.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is when one party files an application for divorce, and the other spouse does not file an answer because he/she does not oppose or contest the divorce. Generally at this stage, the parties have already resolved all of the issues arising from their separation such as custody, access, child support, property division/equalization, etc., and are ready to move forward with finalizing their divorce. In other instances, the parties may just be looking to obtain a divorce order at that stage in their lives.

The matrimonial home is only in my name. What happens if I separate/divorce?

If you have a Marriage Contract setting out how this asset is to be divided upon separation, good for you! The terms of your contract will dictate how the home will be divided between you and your former spouse. However, if you do not have a Marriage Contract, the matrimonial home has special status under Ontario family law regardless of who holds title. The value of your home at the time of separation will therefore be subject to equalization between you and your former spouse.

What happens to the engagement ring if I get separated/divorced?

It depends. If the wedding is called off, there may be a requirement to return the engagement ring. If the wedding is not called off and you get married, the ring is yours, however you may need to share in the appreciation of the value of the ring between the date of marriage and date of separation. To ensure that there is no misunderstanding, a Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Contract can set out how the ring will be treated in the event of a separation.

What happens to our pet if I separate/divorce?

Many of us consider our pets to be members of our family, but in Ontario, pets are still considered as property. Pets will therefore be divided according to ownership. That being said, it’s not uncommon for people to negotiate terms into their Separation Agreement providing for how their beloved pet will be shared and cared for.

Contact Holam Law PC Today

If you are considering separating from your spouse and wish to obtain a divorce, whether you have already resolved all other corollary issues in your separation and require a divorce as the last step in your legal process, or whether you require a legal opinion regarding a foreign divorce, or legal reasons for divorce we at Holam Law PC can expertly assist you.

Contact us today at (365) 608-6161 or by email at info@holamlaw.com to schedule a consultation.