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Separation Agreements

What is Legal Separation?

The determination of the actual date of separation may be of importance in establishing such things as child custody and access, support and division of property. It is also important in determining the date upon which a Divorce Judgment may be lawfully finalized. 

Separation Agreements are formal, legal documents setting out final or temporary (interim) agreement by the parties as to all legal issues arising from their separation, including arrangements relating to children, financial support, settlement of the spouses' property claims, and possession of the parties' matrimonial home.

Final separation agreement also typically include additional provisions whereby the parties agree that they will not advance further claims against each other in the future; with the exception of particular issues which are specifically referred to in the agreement as being subject to change or variation in the future.

A Divorce Judgment may be obtained one year following the date of the parties' separation.

Both married couples and "common law" spouses separate when one or both individuals decide that the relationship is over and the couple stops "acting" like a couple. That usually involves a physical separation but parties can be considered separated while continuing to live in the same residence.

The one-year period begins to run as soon as one party or the other believes the relationship is over and there is no reasonable chance it can be saved. It does not have to be a mutual decision, so long as one party or the other believes the relationship is over, that is enough to start the one year period running.

There is no specific legal document required in Ontario to formalize a marital separation. A Separation Agreement may be negotiated and completed some time after the parties' actual marital separation. The absence of a Separation Agreement does not affect the parties' “separated” status.

According to Canadian Law, married couples can obtain a divorce after a one year separation. In some situations a divorce can be obtained before a one-year separation but couples usually simply wait for the one-year to expire.

Contact us for more information or if you wish to obtain separation agreements advice in your family law matter.

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