DIVORCE AND SEPARATION
Married people have the option to be divorced if they have been separated for at least one year. It is important to note that you can still start an action for divorce under the Divorce Act before you have been separated for one year, but the divorce itself cannot be finalised until you have actually been separated for at least one year. In cases where there has been adultery or cruelty, couples can be divorced even if they have not been separated for one year.
It is also possible to obtain a declaration of irreconcilability, but generally speaking, there is no reason to take this step. Some clients ask us about getting a “legal separation” or some other term. This is almost never necessary as 1) parties almost never have to prove separation, and 2) there are other more practical ways to secure your rights on the breakdown of a marriage or common law relationship. If you are separated, and you want to either end your marriage or at least settle the issues surrounding the breakdown of your marriage such as child custody, child support, spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony), or division of property, you can bring an action under the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act, and/or the Matrimonial Property Act.