Resolving the Issues Related to Divorce and Separation
The divorce lawyers in our family law practice group know there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario family members. Our experience allows us to work with clients to devise a plan that meets their long- and short-term goals. We use alternative dispute methods and creative settlement options to resolve divorce and separation issues such as custody and access, child and spousal support, and division of property and assets (equalization).
Our work is regularly well received by clients, who see the tangible results of our legal advice and guidance. Our family lawyers are familiar with the family court system in Ontario and are always prepared to explore every legal option to help our clients achieve their priorities for their family’s future.
General information for separating spouses
When two people cohabit in a committed relationship, either pursuant to their co-parenting of a child, or for a significant length of time (3 years or more), there arises a set of rights and obligations that together make up what is called “Family Law”.
Those rights and obligations are defined by the law, and address a set of important issues relating to your property, financial and cash-flow matters, and if applicable, the parenting of your children.
The law exists in two ways: Statutory law and Common Law. Statutes are laws and regulations passed by Parliament and Legislatures. These are rules with broad guidance on their application.
Common Law is the collected written decisions of courts wherein each judge/court has applied Statutory Law (and reason and interpretation and analysis) to the particular people and circumstances before it.
To determine the answer to any legal issue, a lawyer must know both the statutory law that applies, and be able to determine what common law cases are relevant to the set of circumstances of the matter at hand.
In addition to the general difficulty of knowing what the law is, family law presents a special challenge. Unlike most areas of the law, family law has recently had the habit of dramatically changing in a very short period of time.
The family law statutes applicable to most Ontario situations are as follows:
The Common Law applicable to Ontario residents is generally Ontario-based, but there is nothing stopping a judge in an Ontario case from citing some relevant legal precedent from some court in Alberta, or British Columbia or Nova Scotia. The Common Law is enormously vast, and the thousands of relevant cases are not stored in one place. To get a sense of the stunning complexity of it all, you can view a small fraction of the common law at this free site: www.canlii.org.
Laying the Groundwork: New and Existing Relationships
Mann Lawyers is a good source of advice and guidance for couples who want to prepare for the legal effects of their relationship. We represent clients who seek a cohabitation or marriage agreement with their partner. We draft these documents as well as provide independent legal advice regarding the contents of drafted agreements.
The law to get a divorce is the same across Canada as it falls under the Divorce Act. While the process is not the most complicated, there is criteria that must be met and a number of steps that must be taken.
An Ontario court can grant you a divorce if:
- You and/or your spouse have ordinarily resided in Ontario for at least a year immediately before your divorce application; and
- There has been a breakdown of a marriage.
Either spouse can decide to start the divorce process and it can be done solely by one party, or jointly. Most commonly, parties already have a Separation Agreement in place, which will have already settled all of the issues resulting from the separation, and will also often say who’s responsible for the divorce process.
How long does it take? A few months. The Divorce Application is served on the other spouse and they typically have 30 days to respond to the divorce. If you have already settled everything via Separation Agreement or Court, then there will be no need for the served spouse to respond. There are a few more administrative steps, but once you receive your Divorce Order, your divorce is effective 30 days from the date of the Order. The Certificate of Divorce is the final document. This is the document you will need if you wish to remarry.
If you are part of a couple who has decided to go your separate ways, here are some tips on what to do next:
Get Some Legal Advice
Regardless of the nature of your separation — amicable, contentious, complicated — you should understand your rights and obligations. You should also get educated on the various ways to resolve the aspects of the separation, whether through alternative dispute resolution like mediation or through court processes. Speak with friends or family members about possible referrals for lawyers and try to find a lawyer who feels like a good fit for you.
Do Some Financial Planning
Separation and divorce require the untangling of finances, the equalization of property, and the determining of support obligations. It can be expensive. In the short term, think about how you will budget for extra expenses, such as legal fees, moving costs, and other unexpected financial obligations. It is important not to make any big financial decisions until you have an understanding of your financial circumstances following separation.
Take Care of Yourself
The end of a relationship can be difficult. Seek out counselling if you are having difficulty coping and try making some resolutions that are fun and positive and will help you to see your new beginning in a different light. Rely on the support of family and friends to see you through.