Separation and Divorce

When a marriage ends, one or both spouses may wish to apply for a divorce. The divorce itself is simply a Court Order which ends the marriage, enabling the former spouses to re-marry.

Most divorces in Ontario are granted on the basis that the spouses have been separated for at least a year and there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation. If you have children, you must be able to show the court that you and your former spouse have made reasonable arrangements for their support before a divorce will be granted.

It is not necessary to obtain a divorce to resolve the other legal issues that arise from the separation, such as property, support and parenting matters. These matters can be addressed through a Separation Agreement before either person has applied for a divorce.

Although there aren’t any formal requirements to end a common-law relationship, couples who separate after a long period of cohabitation may still need a Separation Agreement or Court Order to address the legal issues that arise from the separation.

A Separation Agreement is a domestic contract that sets out how you and your former spouse have decided to resolve the legal issues that apply to you. For example, it could outline how your property will be divided, how you will care for your children, and what kind of support payments will be made.

In order for a Separation Agreement to be legally binding, each person must sign it in front of a witness. It is also important that you and your former spouse have full financial disclosure from one another, and obtain independent legal advice, to make sure that your Separation Agreement will be enforceable. You and your former spouse must get advice from separate lawyers. One lawyer cannot advise both parties, since to do so would be a conflict of interest.

Explore your process options


Here you will find links to articles to help explain the issues and options around family law.

Separation agreement paves path to well-structured divorce


By Jennifer Brown, Senior Editor Couples might be tempted to skip the separation agreement when they split, but it is an essential first step […]

Separation agreement not the final word on spousal support


By Staff A separation agreement is not always the final word on spousal support, says St. Catharines family lawyer and mediator Sharon Silbert. In a […]