Marriage breakdown is extremely stressful, but is often the only conclusion to an unhappy relationship. If you have made the decision to leave your marriage, you must know your legal rights and obligations. Getting legal advice at this early stage could save you cost and stress in the future.
Legal advice is particularly necessary if you have children. Consulting a family lawyer can also bring you peace of mind, as your lawyer will help you make the best decisions for you and your family.
The Divorce Act
Under Canadian law, divorce is granted federally under the Divorce Act. Divorce is granted on several grounds:
- mental or physical cruelty
- separation for one year
If you have children, you will not be granted a divorce until the Child Support Guidelines are being met, and when the court is satisfied that all reasonable arrangements have been made for support of the children.
Child Support and Divorce
Children are not property, and the court will determine what it sees as the best solution for the child or children. Custody agreements and access agreements are an essential factor in the child’s wellbeing, and are mandated by the court. The court may also award spousal support (also known as alimony).
Voluntary settlement agreements
Divorces need not be acrimonious. The best scenario is for you and your spouse to outline a settlement plan. This plan must include:
- a parenting plan if you have children. This includes how the costs of raising the children are divided.
- a plan to divide all your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses.
Your divorce lawyer will draw up a legal settlement agreement, which you and your spouse sign. This type of uncontested divorce can be finalized within a few months.
Divorce: property and support
Contested divorces may take months to be finalized. Marriages are economic partnerships, so assets, including property, are contested when the marriage breaks down.
Ideally, the combined assets and earnings accumulated during the marriage will be equally divided. The net worth of each partner is calculated by taking their net worth on the date of marriage, and their net worth at the date of separation. The difference is their net family property. In an ideal world, the partner with the highest net worth would give half the difference to the other partner.
The matrimonial home is legally considered as joint property, whichever spouse actually owns it. Each spouse has a legal right to live in it. Its value is included in the net worth calculations.
In reality, these calculations are so complex in the case of contested divorces that legal advice is essential. The lawyers for both parties can negotiate a contested settlement, often finding creative and mutually beneficial solutions. Calculating spousal support is also highly complex. Lawyers will negotiate
based on the economic advantages, or disadvantages, that their client experienced in the marriage.
Venetia Rose has been a freelance writer and blogger. She loves to share and keep herself updated with the latest tips in family and divorce law. Her interests are cooking, photography, craft and painting. Follow her on Face book https://www.facebook.com/laksh.venetia