When married couples are contemplating divorce, spouses need to understand the differences between separation and divorce. Oftentimes, people use the terms interchangeably, yet they are not the same thing.
What Is Separation?
Separation is generally defined as living separate and apart from one another. Couples can separate on their own without filing for divorce. They can choose to remain living in the same home in some cases as long as they live separate and apart within the home.
For example, one person could move out of the marital bedroom and into the guest room, establishing a separation. While the couple might still share certain responsibilities, like contributing towards household expenses or raising and caring for minor children, they may decide to do other things apart.
Many couples will do what is sometimes referred to as a “trial separation.” This again is not a legal proceeding. Instead, the couple may want to live apart to determine if their marriage is truly over or if there is a chance to reconcile. Sometimes couples will reconcile and other times, they will decide they are happier living apart and file for divorce. An option to try and come to a final resolution is to proceed through negotiation or mediation.
What Legal Actions Should Take Place During a Separation?
If there are important issues, like financial support of one spouse or children, or there are concerns over marital assets or child access and visitation when living apart in different households, then certain legal actions should be filed with the court. A lawyer can assist to determine which claims need to be made and which issues are in play such as support issues, division of property and parenting.
What Is Divorce?
Divorce is a legal proceeding initiated by one or both spouses when there is a breakdown in the marriage that cannot be salvaged. Divorce proceedings do take time to complete. There is a mandatory waiting period couples must adhere to for their divorce to be granted.
While waiting for the divorce to be finalized, the couple is expected to attempt to reach various agreements including a division of marital assets, disposition of the marital home, child custody and parenting issues, and so on. These agreements must be completed and submitted to the court before a divorce will be granted. These agreements can come from negotiating out of court or proceeding with the court steps such as a Case Conference, a Settlement Conference and Motions.
Any outstanding issues will go to trial where they are litigated in front of a judge. After hearing from both parties, the judge makes a final ruling. The judge signs the Divorce Order after all outstanding issues are resolved and the couple has met the mandatory waiting period. However, the couple must then still wait another 31 days before they can receive their Divorce Certificate.
Besides Filing for Divorce, What Other Legal Actions Should Be Taken?
You will want to establish spousal support, child support, and child visitation schedules while waiting for the divorce to be finalized. Temporary motions can be filed with the court to address urgent issues and matters until they can be finalized in the divorce agreement.
Please remember, this is a general definition of separation and divorce and does not reflect every aspect of every situation. For further questions about separation and divorce, or to file for divorce, contact Toronto Family Lawyer Tanya Davies at (416) 363-0064 today, for the legal advice and guidance you need, to protect your interests.