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Road map for separating couples

Are you separating from your spouse or partner? When it comes to how you dissolve your relationship, it’s important to know that you have a number of options.


Your options for divorce and separation


  • Self-represented legal support
  • Lawyer assisted negotiation
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative negotiations
  • Arbitration
  • Litigation

See more about your options here>>


We have decided to separate. What happens next?


Exchange of financial information

Prior to any negotiations, the parties should exchange all potentially relevant financial information (e.g., RRSP statements, bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc.). Ask your lawyer what you need to ask for and to provide.


The resolution process is often dictated by the level of cooperation the parties are able to muster , but typically there are a series of steps in the process.


Step 1

Couple negotiates their own agreement directly with it reviewed by their lawyers who put it into contract form (separation agreement).


Step 2

Couple attends mediation to negotiate their agreement with it reviewed by their lawyers and put into contract form.


Couple negotiates through their lawyers, hopefully collaboratively, and reach an agreement which one of the lawyers puts into contract form.


Step 3

Negotiations fail and recourse to an arbitrator or a judge is needed on one or more issues. It results in an order that one of the lawyers will draft.


Determining issues

The contract (separation agreement) or court order determines the issues (parenting, support and property division as may be applicable) and the parties may proceed to a divorce or not. A divorce is not required, but available if a ground is established.


The property issues, once resolved by a formal agreement or court order, are almost always resolved on a final basis and they are not subject to variation unless there has been a clear mistake, fraud, etc.


Each party may acquire future assets or debts without the other having any interest or liability.


Parenting and support issues most often are subject to review in the future in the event of a relevant change in circumstances. Even after parties divorce, parenting and support issues may have to be revisited and adjusted.


If the parties wish to proceed with a divorce, there are three possible grounds, any one of which will be sufficient:

  • One year separate and apart with no intention to reconcile
  • Cruelty by one spouse against the other
  • Adultery


The great majority of divorces are granted on the grounds of one year or more of separation with no intention to reconcile. If one year of separation is established, either party may apply for the divorce. It usually cannot be successfully opposed or obstructed (ask your lawyer about exceptions).


While the above information is generally true, each case is unique. Get in touch with a lawyer so you are aware of how any decision can impact the outcome of your separation.


Moe Hannah lawyers are skilled in multiple methods of resolving issues from collaborative approaches to contested court hearings. We’ll help you understand the advantages and drawbacks of each method.


Get in touch with us to book a consultation>>