Written by: Elsa Falkenberg

“How do I get a legal separation?”

A common question for people facing the daunting idea of ending a marriage or common law relationship is how to “legally separate.” In addition to the emotional weight of this process are the practical issues of separating your financial affairs and setting arrangements for children.

Separation occurs when one or both partners chose to end the relationship and begin living separate and apart. There are no formal requirements to become separated, it is a matter of fact. Although physical separation – i.e. living in separate homes – is a more obvious indication of separation, it is not a requirement and other factors are also recognized as evidence of separation. In many cases, it is not financially feasible for the former couple to physically reside separate and apart. However other factors that support a finding of separation and the breakdown of the relationship include, for example, instances where the individuals no longer hold themselves out to others as a couple, no longer have meals together and discontinue the sharing of domestic activities.

Why does it matter?

The legalities of separation come with the challenges of finalizing parenting arrangements, property division, and support. A legally binding agreement can finalize these issues and reduce uncertainty, allowing the family to move forward. For married couples ultimately seeking a divorce, the most common and practical ground for divorce, as provided in the Divorce Act, is separation for a period of at least one year. Especially where there are children of the relationship, it is ideal to address these issues in the interim, and bring some stability and structure to a new stage in life. As regards the division of property, a separation agreement is typically required by most financial institutions before the process of transferring major financial assets, such as the family home, can occur. Where it proves impossible for individuals to agree to the terms of an agreement, the court system may be required.

The process of separation itself can be complicated and most often benefits from legal advice. Our firm can help you determine the next steps in your separation. Contact us today at 204-515-6020 to schedule a free 30 minutes initial consultation.