Commonly Overlooked Issues on Separation

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What are commonly overlooked issues on separation in Barrhead, Alberta? Find out in this comprehensive guide by Driessen De Rudder Law Office.


Separation and Divorce in Canada


If an adult relationship or a marriage doesn’t work anymore, a couple can decide to live apart from each other. The couple can be unmarried but living together in a common-law relationship, or they can be married.

Under Canada’s Constitution, the territorial, provincial, and federal governments share responsibility for family law issues. There is no such thing as a ‘legal separation’ in Canada. However, living apart from your partner for a year is one of the grounds for separation. Only legally married couples can divorce. But, an individual can be separated from their spouse and still be legally married.

On the other hand, a common law relationship is considered to have ended when the partners stop living together in a relationship of interdependence.

When both married and common law couples separate, it is important that all matters be addressed in a comprehensive separation agreement. Regardless of whether you and your partner are separating on good terms, consulting a divorce lawyer is recommended. Even if the separating couple agrees on the terms of their separation agreement, certain issues may get overlooked, such as child support, division, or property. Having an independent legal counsel ensures both parties’ rights are protected.


Separation & Common Law Couples


In Alberta, common law relationships are defined as adult interdependent relationships. In other words, these relationships are established when a couple lives together for at least three years. This time period can be even shorter if they have a child together or have signed an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement.

Although only married couples go through divorce proceedings, the dissolution of a common law relationship can be similar in many ways. In other words, assets must be divided, and custody and child support must also be determined.

Common Law rights begin to be acquired as soon as people begin cohabiting, contrary to popular belief it does not take 6 months or a year.

Some commonly overlooked issues are:

1) Government-regulated child support; 2) Partner support; 3) Claims to the other party’s property; 4) Inability to get a mortgage without a properly executed agreement.

Navigating a common law separation in Alberta can be complex, as well as emotionally and financially challenging. Co-habitation and pre-nuptial agreements, entered into at the start of any relationship, provide the best means of forestalling future controversies in the event of a relationship’s breakdown.


Separation & Married Couples in Alberta


Separation in Alberta means you and your spouse live apart for at least one year. The separation period often passes without a court order or written agreement. In fact, you can’t get divorced before going through a separation in Alberta. Separating couples often sign a separation agreement. It is a written agreement covering crucial matters such as child support and custody, how much spousal support will be paid, or how the property will be divided.

Issues that can get overlooked can include the following:

1) Division of government and private pensions;

2) Splitting debt;

3) Taxes;

4) Gifts;

5) Undisclosed (hidden) assets;

6) Claims to each other’s estate;

7) Health insurance policies; and

8) Dower release registration.

Even a “simple” separation, in which both parties cooperate, requires that all matters be properly documented and that independent legal advice be provided. A properly prepared and executed separation agreement ensures peace of mind for the future.


Reach Out to a Divorce Lawyer


Separation can be devastating, whether or not there are children involved. If family violence or emotional abuse is present, a person can apply in the Alberta Court of King’s Bench for an Exclusive Possession Order. The order can evict a violent partner and possibly impose a restraining order.

Furthermore, the order applies to a married couple as well as those in a common-law relationship, even if the home is in the name of your spouse. The court imposing the order will consider both parties’ finances as well as the best interests of the children.

Lawyers at Driessen De Rudder Law Office have the knowledge and insight to navigate issues arising in the divorce process or separation, property division, and child custody matters. For more questions on commonly overlooked issues of separation, reach out to our Barrhead office. We offer a free initial phone consultation.

Driessen De Rudder
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5017-50 Avenue, Box 4220,
Barrhead, AB T7N 1A2

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