Divorce concludes a marriage and can feel like an emotional punch unexpected by many who face the journey. For those who have experienced the process, they become aware of the deeply personal, social, spiritual, and psychological impact on their lives.
Court Granted Divorce Order
Only a court-granted divorce order terminates a marriage. A “divorce” proclaimed by a spouses to the other is not good enough. An annulment granted by your church or religious institution is not a divorce under the laws of Canada.
For opposite-sex couples, the Canada-wide no-fault ground for divorce is the ‘breakdown of the marriage with no possibility of reconciliation’, regardless of the Canadian province in which you married. If the residency and other legislated requirements are met, a divorce may be granted. Only one spouse needs to claim that breakdown has occurred. The person making the claim that the marriage has ended should confirm this preferably in writing to their spouse.
For couples of a same-sex marriage performed in Canada which has ended, and neither spouse resides in Canada, a divorce can be obtained through the court of the province where the marriage was performed. The couple may submit a joint application or one spouse may proceed with the written consent of the other spouse.
Being the Recipient of a Spouse who wants to Divorce
When you first call me telling me that your spouse wants a divorce, the reaction is typically shock and anger. There may be a sense of failure or disappointment that somehow, they failed to make the marriage work. They worry about how to talk to their children and whether they should try to stay in the marriage for their children’s welfare. Another layer of concern is how extended family, members of their social circle or colleagues will view the change in their home life.
Being the Decision Maker to Divorce
For those clients who inform me that they finally made the decision to separate after years of emotional pain and churning internal struggle, it comes with an incredible sense of relief, sometimes tinged with feeling socially-stigmatized for being labeled as ‘destroying’ the family.
Clear Mind Free from Emotional Distraction
A client’s acknowledgment and appreciation that their vulnerability, perhaps fragility and emotional instability, need to be managed is a critical first step. To understand complex legal issues and to offer meaningful instructions to their family law lawyer about their unique family circumstances requires a clear mind free from distraction and emotional pain. Some clients seek counseling or develop a foundational support network to become empowered, gain confidence, and become better prepared to proceed on this new path.
The Divorce Process
An application for a divorce order does not automatically include all other matters arising from the marriage or its breakdown. Decisions relating to the children’s child support, education, health, welfare, financial needs, as well property division, among others matters, need to be specifically addressed and resolved by negotiation, court order, or arbitration award. Given too that there are timelines to be respected, a family’s prudent and focused attention will be to develop
- an optimal parenting or contact plan focusing on the needs of the children,
- a resolution of economic and financial resources and needs,
- as well consideration for ongoing healthcare, estates matters, and
- property division.
Your family law lawyer has a legal duty to ensure that there remains no possibility for reconciliation between the spouses. If an opportunity exists, the divorce process can be paused to explore guidance and marriage counseling options.