torn piece of paper with divorce text and paper family figures


Separation Agreements

Separation agreements and court orders can resolve some family matters when you separate but they do not legally end your marriage. The only way to legally end your marriage is to get a divorce.


In most cases, in order for a divorce to be granted, you must have lived separate and apart from your spouse for at least one year. While you can begin the divorce process before this period has passed, it cannot be completed until the year has passed.

Where another basis for the breakdown of the marriage has been established, such as adultery or mental or physical cruelty, the court can grant the divorce at any time, although additional steps will be necessary.

Please feel free to speak with a lawyer from our team for more information regarding the process for obtaining a divorce .

Only married spouses need a divorce. People who have lived together may, however, have other issues that need to be decided, including custody and access, support and division of jointly owned property. These rights and obligations are not always the same as they are for married spouses, particularly in relation to rights to property. You can speak to us about your rights and obligations arising from your relationship.

Division of Property

When a marriage ends, the equal contribution of each person to the marriage is recognized. The law provides that the value of any kind of property that was acquired by a spouse during the marriage and still exists at separation must be divided equally between the spouses. Also, any increase in the value of property owned by a spouse at the date of marriage must be shared. The payment that may be owed to one of the spouses in order to effect this sharing is called an equalization payment, or an equalization of net family property.

There are some possible exceptions to these rules, which are called excluded property, and may include gifts or inheritances received during the marriage from someone other than a spouse, provided that the gifts or inheritances were not used towards a matrimonial home.

These automatic property sharing provisions only apply to married spouses. If you are in a common law relationship, you are not entitled to an equalization payment, but may be entitled to a payment from your spouse to pay you back for a direct or indirect contribution to property that he or she owns. These claims are referred to as trust claims.

Spousal Support

The law views spousal relationships as financial partnerships. When the partnership breaks down, the person with more income or assets may have to pay support to the other. At the same time, the law expects adults to look after their own needs to the best of their abilities.

To decide on how much spousal support and the length of time that it should be paid, the law says that judges must consider a number of factors, including how much the person asking for support needs to meet his or her needs, and how much the other person can afford to pay. A person may claim support to help him or her become financially self-sufficient or to keep from ending up in serious financial difficulty.

Advisory Spousal Support Guidelines are available to help parties discuss the appropriate amount of spousal support to be paid. If the parties proceed to court, the court may consider these guidelines in determining how much spousal support should be paid, but they are not binding.

Spousal Support Guidelines are different from Child Support Guidelines, which the court is required to follow.

Custody and access

When you separate or divorce, you must arrange for the care of your children. This includes where they will live and how important decisions about them will be made

Child support

Both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children. If you do not have custody, the amount of child support you must pay is based on your income and the number of children you must support.

Supervised access to children

Where there are concerns for the safety of the children and/or a parent, a court can require that visits with children be supervised. The parents can also agree upon supervised visits without a court order.

Child Protection

When concerns are raised about a family’s ability to care for a child, a child protection agency may take steps to investigate the care the child is receiving and potentially to remove a child from his or her home.

Refraining Order

Refraining Orders are court orders which ask FRO (Family Responsibility Officer)to wait before taking away a support payor’s driver’s license. This can happen if the payor has not paid the support that has been ordered by the Court. They are governed by the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act.

The First Notice of Driver’s Licence Suspension that was sent to the support payor in the mail includes a deadline. If you do not take action before this deadline, your driver’s licence will be suspended. If you have received a Final Notice of Driver’s Licence Suspension, you must bring your payments up to date within 15 days or your driver’s licence will be suspended. Making a motion for a Refraining Order is not an option after you receive a Final Notice. You can check your notice to see if it is a First Notice or a Final Notice.

Please feel free to speak with a lawyer from our team for more information regarding this process.