Vaughan Separation Lawyers

The breakdown of a relationship is emotional and has a substantial impact on a family’s daily life. When a couple separates, complicated legal issues can arise that affect how they parent their children and impact their finances.

Our family lawyers at GDH Family Law have devoted their careers to the practice of family law. We work to minimize conflict and resolve family disputes as efficiently as possible to reduce the costs to our clients. The steps taken after a separation can set the tone for future divorce proceedings and any ongoing relationship between the parties. No matter how much or little support you need or what stage you are at in your separation, we can help.

What Does it Mean to Be “Separated”?

A couple is considered separated once one or both spouses express the intention to end the relationship and begin living “separate and apart” with no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Spouses do not necessarily need to live in different residences to be considered separated. Some couples choose to remain in the family home after separation for financial reasons or to give their children time to adjust to the new family dynamic. Spouses who continue to live in the same home need to live their lives independently to be considered separated; for example, they no longer go to events or socialize together, they maintain independent schedules for their daily lives, or they sleep in separate rooms.

Determining the Date of Separation

Upon the breakdown of their relationship, a married couple must identify the exact date of their separation. In most cases, a divorce order can only be granted once the spouses have been living separate and apart for one year. The spouses must therefore identify the date of separation to show when the one-year period began.

The date of separation also acts as a benchmark for other legal issues affecting the parties. All family property is generally appraised for its value as of the date of separation. Those valuations are then used to determine the equalization of the net family property between married spouses, or division of property for common law spouses.

A couple’s separation also triggers spousal support and child support obligations and entitlements. Therefore, the date of separation is required when calculating retroactive support dating back to the time of the relationship breakdown.

Determining the date of separation can be complicated, particularly when separated spouses continue to live in the same residence. Courts will review the circumstances of the spouses and their relationship in determining the date of separation, including the following factors:

  • When the spouses stopped preparing and sharing meals together;
  • When they stopped attending events together;
  • How household chores and responsibilities were divided between the spouses;
  • How much the spouses coordinated their daily schedules; and
  • When the spouses stopped sharing a bedroom.

A couple’s separation is highly contextual and can be affected by any attempts to reconcile. When one spouse chooses to end the relationship, a letter from their lawyer can be helpful to crystallize the date of separation. Where the spouses cannot agree, they may need to apply to the court to have a judge review the facts and set the date of separation.

Separation Agreements

Separation agreements are vital for setting out the rights and obligations of the spouses throughout the separation and post-divorce. These agreements are used to settle as many of the outstanding legal issues between the spouses as possible, including:

Creating a separation agreement requires both spouses’ full and honest financial disclosure, without which the court may invalidate the agreement.

Resolving matters amicably through the use of a separation agreement allows spouses to create their own “roadmap” for their family’s life from now on, particularly as the terms of a separation agreement can form the basis for the divorce order. This can be preferable to taking a dispute to court and having a judge’s decision imposed upon the parties.

Separation agreements also set clear expectations for the parties. This can reduce misunderstandings and provide a way for ex-spouses to resolve future conflicts without the need for costly and adversarial court proceedings. This is particularly desirable where the spouses share parenting responsibilities and maintain respectful communication for the foreseeable future.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

At GDH Family Law, we recognize the family dynamic can change dramatically after separation. Our team can help you resolve the issues that arise during your separation and divorce process as efficiently and amicably as possible to reduce the upheaval of your family’s lives.

Family mediation and negotiation allow spouses to express their needs and contribute ideas while developing creative solutions to their issues. This invests the parties in the outcome and helps avoid future disputes and misunderstandings.

Where matters require a more formal resolution, parties may benefit from arbitration. In arbitration, both sides present their evidence and arguments to an independent arbitrator and receive a binding decision. Unlike court proceedings, however, the arbitration process and its outcome are private.

Alternative dispute resolution processes can reduce the time and cost to the parties instead of the fees and scheduling delays associated with the court system. While these processes can be less adversarial than a trial, the GDH Family Law team provides skilled advocacy regardless of the forum to make sure our clients’ rights and interests are preserved. We also are a commanding presence in the courtroom when a trial is the best way for securing a successful outcome for our client.

Contact GDH Family Law in Vaughan for Experienced Advice After Separation

At GDH Family Law, we understand how separation disrupts the family dynamic. Our team provides clients with compassionate and reliable guidance through the separation and divorce process so they can focus on helping their families adjust to the new status quo.

We provide experienced advice and representation to clients in Vaughan (including Maple, Concord, Woodbridge, Kleinberg) and throughout the surrounding areas, including Markham, Richmond Hill, Nobleton, Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, Etobicoke, North York, Thornhill, and King City. For a free initial consultation on your family matter, contact us at 416-535-6944 or reach out online.