What is the difference between separation and divorce?
A separation occurs when one or both spouses decide to live apart with no intention of living together again. Couples may legally separate even where they continue to live in the same home.
A divorce is an order signed by a judge. A marriage is not legally over until a judge grants you a divorce order. Once you have started formal divorce proceedings, you may stop the process at any time if you want to reconcile with your spouse.
Who can apply for a divorce in Canada?
Spouses can apply for a divorce in Canada if:
- You were legally married in Canada or another country;
- You intend to separate permanently from your spouse and believe there is no chance you will get back together or you have left your spouse and do not intend to get back together; and
- Either or both of you have lived in the Canadian province or territory for at least one year immediately before applying for a divorce in that province or territory.
What are the legal reasons for getting a divorce?
To get a divorce, you have to show that your marriage has broken down. The law says marriage breakdown occurs in the following three scenarios:
- You and your spouse have lived separate and apart for one year with the idea that your marriage is over;
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you have not forgiven your spouse; or
- Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you, making it unbearable to continue living together. Cruelty may include acts of physical violence and those causing severe mental anguish.
It does not matter who decided to end the marriage or separate if you ask for a divorce based on living separate and apart for one year, but you will need to prove what happened if the reason you are asking for a divorce is marriage breakdown because of adultery or mental or physical cruelty.
It is always a good idea to speak to a knowledgeable lawyer when starting a divorce application. A lawyer can tell you exactly how the law applies to your situation and how to protect your rights.