Video: Is Collaborative Practice Right for You?
Before any married couple decides to divorce, they will have come to a point at which they have each decided – whether formally or in their own minds – to separate from each other. But “separation” in a spouse’s mind is not always the same as separation in a legal sense. We will address some of the issues that can arise in connection with identifying a separation date, or with untangling a “grey area” scenario where, for economic reasons or otherwise, a couple’s formal separation date is difficult to pinpoint. However, such an acknowledgement is very important for many reasons, legal and otherwise. The discussion will then shed some light on the separation agreement itself and the importance of ensuring it covers all the issues, uses correct legal concepts and terminology, and includes certain legislated rights and obligations that the parties often have. And finally, we’ll turn to an examination of the many obstacles and issues that can arise on the way to divorce – the post-separation period, if you will.
Many couples will have no trouble identifying the precise moment at which the relationship was fully and finally over. But when a couple’s separation process involves many unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation or a post-separation “friends with benefits” arrangement, the legal the date of separation may not be immediately evident.
In Canada, before it can be said there has been a breakdown of a marriage sufficient to warrant divorce proceedings. the federal Divorce Act stipulates that parties must be living “separate and apart” for a certain period of time.
The Family Law Act provides support rights not only to separated married spouses, but to common-law spouses as well. This second group consists of those partners who, while not formally married, have “cohabited continuously for a period of not less than three years.”
The case of Karajian v. Karajian illustrates the court’s difficult role in untangling the complex and emotionally-charged relationship between separating and divorcing couples. Particularly, the difficulties a court can have where, for financial or other reasons, the spouses consider themselves legally separated but continue to live together, and how the court’s already difficult task is magnified when one of the parties has not fully accepted the fact that the marriage is over.