ClickCease Quick guide: How to file for separation in Ontario – SplitEasy

Quick guide: How to file for separation in Ontario

Quick guide: How to file for separation in Ontario

Filing for separation in Ontario concerns legal couples. Legal separation occurs when couples are unwilling to continue living together but do not want a divorce. It could either solve recurring marital issues or be a step before finally dissolving a marriage. Filing for separation in Ontario is not always that simple as couples may have issues that need to be resolved, such as who takes responsibility for which debt, how the properties will be shared, and child custody. Although a separation does not require special forms to be filed in court before it becomes effective, you can file a written separation agreement if you and your spouse consent to it.

Legal Separation in Ontario—what you need to know

A legal separation is an option for separating spouses that are not willing to continue in their marital relationship but are not yet ready for a divorce. It is one of the options that the law provides for ending a marital relationship and can also be a prelude to a divorce. When spouses decide on a legal separation, they cease to live as a married couple and now live “separate and apart.” Although there is no legal procedure or court process required for a legal separation in Ontario, it may not always be a simple process. Several legal issues may need to be resolved before the couple separates to avoid serious disputes later. Issues like responsibility for debts, marital property, child custody, and parenting plans may need to be resolved through a legal separation agreement. 

Requirements for a legally binding separation agreement

To create a legally binding separation agreement, both parties must be completely open and honest about their financial situations. This process requires detailed disclosure of their significant assets and liabilities. The agreement must be put into writing and signed by each party in the presence of a witness. This agreement must be entered into voluntarily and not under any duress. Each party must understand the agreement. It is in the interests of both parties to receive independent legal advice. Certain aspects of the agreement may eventually be subject to judicial review, and particularly when the rights of children are involved, the terms of the agreement may be overridden.

While it is the policy of the courts to uphold separation agreements, in practicality, it is best to avoid one-sided agreements. Unfair agreements may create resentments that can lead to court proceedings to change the agreement. It can also encourage litigation on marriage breakdown, which is the very thing that is supposed to be avoided. Although a separation agreement becomes legally binding once it is signed, the parties may alter the terms for further agreement at any time.

Requirements for a legally binding separation agreement

Who can prepare a separation agreement?

Although spouses can prepare their own separation agreement, most are prepared and negotiated by lawyers. The rights and obligations in separation agreements are fundamental, and each spouse should be certain of their legal rights before signing. After SplitEasy prepares your Separation agreement, we recommend that you have a lawyer review it. If you are on a budget, you can use a lawyer who offers unbundled or limited scope services.

Getting the advice and legal help you need

If you and your spouse have decided that you would need some time apart, legal separation can be a good option. But to ensure that your separation occurs in a civil and mutually beneficial process, it makes sense to rely on professional help. A professional can help you understand the disputes in your relationship and draft a legal separation agreement that reflects both your interests, which will be crucial to helping you decide what the next steps should be after separation. If you are about to separate, a lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and ensure that your interests are protected. It is advisable to get the legal help that is right for you.

SplitEasy can help you choose the correct divorce forms for your situation. Once you purchase the form or package we contact you to gather the relevant information. Then we will complete the forms for you and provide clear instructions about what to do next. Contact us today.