Family Law: What Steps Should You Take When Going Through A Separation?
If you’re thinking about separating or have already separated, you and your spouse have to work out the legal issues surrounding parenting, child support, spousal support and division of property. In Ontario, married couples and common-law spouses have the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to their children and support. However, there are several differences when it comes to the division of property. Here are some basic questions you can ask yourself to help you get started.
Do You and Your Spouse Agree?
Although you and your spouse may no longer be compatible, you may be able to agree on issues arising from your separation. If you are unable to come to an agreement yourself, you may want to consider mediation or retaining a lawyer to assist in negotiations. Coming to an agreement amicably and drafting a Separation Agreement allows you to avoid going to court. By settling matters amicably, you and your spouseare able to decide what is best for your family, rather than having a judge impose it’s solution on you both.
Prepare A Separation Agreement
A Separation Agreement is a legal binding contract between you and your spouse that outlines how you and your spouse want to resolve the issues arising from your separation. A Separation Agreement can often be prepared on the issues you are able to settle amicably such as parenting or the transfer of a home. Although you don’t have to hire a lawyer to prepare a Separation Agreement, it is always recommended you do so to ensure the Separation Agreement follows basic domestic contract requirements such as (i) the exchange of full and frank financial disclosure and (ii) the opportunity to have sought or having sought independent legal advice.
File the Agreement with the Court
Once you and your spouse have prepared a separation agreement, you can choose to file it with the court in order to enforce the support provisions (whether it be child support and/or spousal support) through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO)
What If You Can’t Agree with Your Spouse On The Issues Arising From your Separation?
Of course, there’s always the possibility that you simply cannot agree with your spouse. It can be difficult to resolve legal issues when you can no longer communicate or if someone is being unreasonable. If you are unable to come to an agreement amicably or decide an amicably resolution is not feasible, you can commence a court Application to seek the assistance of the court in making decisions based on the evidence produced and the state of the law.
Start A Court Application
To begin a family court case, the Applicant (the one starting the court case)you have to complete and file an Application Form 8 at the court with information about (i) the issues you are asking the judge to resolve (such as child custody or access, child support, spousal support, or dividing property), (ii) a summary of your relationship, (iii) any children you have and (iv) any other facts you are relying on to support your application. These documents are served on the other spouse, who becomes the Respondent (the one responding to the initial court documents). Court proceedings can be complex and follow strick rules/deadlines – it is always recommended to speak to a family law lawyer before commencing an Application.
Contact an experienced family law lawyer at Simard & Associates for assistance with your separation. Hiring a lawyer to provide legal advice can help you avoid mistakes that may prolong your case.