If you are unhappy in your relationship and are considering Divorce, here are a few suggestions that may help you decide what to do.
If you do not know whether you want to end your relationship, attending couples counselling may help you and your spouse talk about the issues in your marriage and help you mend your relationship. Couples counselling may not be appropriate if there are any abuse issues in your relationship.
You may also want to consider individual counselling to help you through your breakup or even help you decide if ending your relationship is a good option for you.
If you have children, counselling for them may be helpful as well. If you decide to separate, there will be many changes for them, and having someone to talk to about how they feel can be invaluable to them.
Many people believe that they can just go to court and obtain a Divorce Order, or just sign divorce papers to obtain a Divorce, like they do on TV. This is not how Divorce works in Ontario. First, you need grounds for Divorce, which will likely be ‘separation’. Separation, as a ground for Divorce, means that your relationship must have been over for a full year before you can obtain a Divorce. You can resolve the issues regarding your separation right away (such as resolving parenting and financial issues), but you most likely cannot obtain a Divorce until a year has passed since your relationship came to an end.
If you and your spouse reconcile for more than 90 days, then your initial separation no longer applies, and the one-year time period starts again at your new separation date.
If you and/or your spouse have children, then you will likely have to resolve all major issues regarding them before a judge will grant you a Divorce. The courts have a duty to your children, which means that you should not be granted a Divorce until the courts are satisfied that there is an appropriate Parenting Time Schedule in place, that you have determined who will make which major decisions for your children, and that the correct amount of Child Support is being paid. Once a judge is satisfied that these issues are resolved in the best interests of your children, then (s)he will consider granting you a Divorce.
Obtaining a Divorce may affect your property rights. If you do not divide your property prior to obtaining your Divorce, then you have less time to resolve these issues.
Also, once you obtain your Divorce, there will be fewer options available to you. For example, you cannot use a spousal rollover to transfer assets between the two of you if you are no longer spouses. This means that you may have to pay more taxes if/when you resolve these issues after you get Divorced.
Depending on who owns the home you live in, you may be giving up your right to be in the home once you obtain your Divorce. Both you and your spouse have a right to live in the home for so long as you are married, regardless of who owns it. If you are no longer married and you do not own the home that you live in, then you may lose the right to be in the home once you obtain a Divorce.
If you have any joint accounts with your spouse, you should consider who will keep the funds in them, and decide whether freezing or closing any of your joint accounts, to ensure that neither one of you can incur debt in the other’s name, is a good option for you.
Divorce Order Paper Work
Only a judge can grant you a Divorce. This means that you must commence an Application at the appropriate courthouse to obtain your Divorce. Once the court file is properly opened and your spouse is given enough time to respond, you must file the appropriate Affidavit as evidence for your Divorce.
Once you obtain your Divorce Order, you are still not officially Divorced because Divorce Orders do not take effect until about a month after they are made. Once this month passes, you can obtain a Divorce Certificate, which confirms that you are officially Divorced. You will need your Divorce Certificate if you need to prove that you are Divorced (e.g. if you ever want to re-marry).
Talk to A Divorce Lawyer
Separation can be daunting, especially if you do not know your rights . If you think that Divorce is a good option for you, you should meet with a lawyer to help you understand the issues to resolve and the process of separation.
If you have questions about dividing your property with your ex, please call us to schedule a free consultation.