Four in ten Canadian first marriages end in divorce – this was revealed in a study conducted in 2010. The number of divorces recorded in Ontario increased from about 27,000 in 2001 to nearly 30,000 in 2008. Nearly five million Canadians have divorced or separated in the last twenty years.
Statistics represent only one part of the story. Divorce and separation still remain painful and challenging for couples and their families. When such an important relationship breaks down, the ripples are felt far and wide into the social fabric. When children are involved, there may be acrimonious disputes and contentious issues regarding child custody and support. No matter how amicable the couple wants it to be, divorce is usually long, expensive and difficult.
Separation and Divorce
“Separation” is when a couple – married, common-law, living together – decides to live apart because their relationship has broken down. They may physically separate or continue to live under one roof, but in separate rooms, for economic or other reasons. The couple can create a contract for this purpose, or a personalized separation agreement.
“Divorce” refers to the legal separation of an officially married couple. This comes under the purview of Family Law in Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial governments share the responsibilities for these laws. The Divorce Act under federal laws rules on:
- Grounds for divorce
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Custody and parenting arrangements for children
The process of getting a divorce falls under provincial and territorial laws. Additionally, there may be issues regarding recognizing foreign divorces in another country, or divorcing a sponsored spouse.
Rights and Responsibilities
Couples usually arrive at the decision to separate and/or divorce after a long and soul-searching journey. Pain, grief, guilt, anxiety, anger etc are some of the emotions that rise to the surface and overwhelm the practical aspects of continuing life outside the marital bond.
Rights depend on several things – whether you were legally married, you have children and they live with you. Spousal and child support duties in Ontario are enforced by the Family Responsibility Office, which can collect the support from the payor, living in Canada, the US or any country which has signed an agreement with Canada.
If the couple owned property, equalization payments may have to be made between them. Spouses may keep property/assets in their own name with exceptions.
Credit-splitting comes into effect regarding CPP pension plans.
An experienced family lawyer or divorce lawyer can assist you. Based on the circumstances of your case, you may need the services of child custody lawyers etc.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Strictly speaking, in uncontested situations, divorce lawyers may not be required. However, lawyers can deal with complex issues regarding separation agreements, divorce proceedings, property-division, child-custody/support, etc. As professionals, they can provide the right advice, assistance and advocacy, protect your rights, ensure fair and equitable property/assets-division and complete the process in a more time-efficient manner.
They can also deal with disputes, disagreements and differences of opinion in a non-emotional manner. Since they are familiar with the regulations and laws, they can quickly and accurately identify potential issues that may compromise your present and future rights.
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