Couples considering divorce in Airdrie face many important decisions that will go towards defining their futures after they separate.
What happens to the children (if applicable) and the marital property are generally the chief concerns. These considerations are made much simpler and less stressful with the support of a seasoned divorce lawyer at your side.
At Jennings family Law, we have been providing help, hope, and support for years for Airdrie couples in the throes of divorce.
The Divorce Act is a federal law that lays out the requirements and procedures for divorce in Alberta.
Specifically, it states that the only official grounds for divorce in Canada is a marital breakdown. This can occur in three circumstances only:
The most common way to demonstrate marriage breakdown in Alberta is by separation.
Under the Divorce Act, partners in a marriage must be separated for at least 12 months before a divorce can be granted. You are permitted to begin divorce action before then but a judge will not sign the divorce decree before the one-year period is up.
Generally speaking, separation means living at separate addresses but this is not mandatory. As long as you live separate lives (e.g., live, eat, sleep, do housework, and socialize separately) you can remain under the same roof if financial or family circumstances warrant it.
Part of the reason for insisting on a one-year separation period before a divorce is that the law wants to provide for the possibility of reconciliation during this “cooling off” period in the marriage.
You may reconcile with your spouse after part of the separation period. If you spend less than 90 days together and then decide to separate again, the one-year separation can continue from where you left off.
If the reconciliation between you and your spouse is longer than 90 days, the one-year separation period would need to begin again if you later seek a divorce.
There are strict guidelines within the Matrimonial Property Act and in common law for the division of marital property after a divorce or separation between adult independent partners.
These laws recognize that both partners in a relationship commit financially to the arrangement. The division of assets and debts should, therefore, be fair and equitable.
There are several ways to ensure that this happens in a legally enforceable manner: couples can work on a binding agreement covering property division with lawyers or mediators, appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate or go to court and have a judge decide.
However, with long relationships especially, the division of marital property can become complex. You must consider not only bank accounts, investments and property but the tax implications, division of pensions, and exemptions too.
The support of an experienced divorce lawyer will help ensure that you do not miss anything critical to your case as mistakes can affect your future financial position.
Spousal support or alimony is money paid to a spouse to enable greater self-sufficiency and independence after a divorce or relationship breakdown.
It is usually paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning/non-earning spouse in monthly payments. However, it may also be paid weekly or even as a lump-sum payment.
Support can be awarded to spouses or adult independent partners who have lived with their partner for three years or more or have a child with that person.
Agreement on spousal support may involve lawyer collaboration, mediation, arbitration or litigation.
Important guidelines lay out the amounts of support due. Judges are aware that the implications of these payments can affect the financial wellbeing of both partners involved and may use a great deal of discretion when deciding on support amounts and duration, based on the specific circumstances of each case.
They will consider the need for support, the ability of the payor to pay it, the duration of the relationship, and whether anything affected the earning abilities of either partner.
Despite what TV dramas may suggest, not all divorces end up in bitter courtroom disputes.
In fact, only a small percentage require litigation and a trial. The vast majority of divorces reach settlements through alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaboration, mediation or arbitration.
Disputes are normal and to be expected as you and your spouse prepare for living apart permanently. Even if you seem far apart in your ideas of what’s fair and equitable, we can help you settle with one of the following approaches:
With mediation, you and your spouse appoint one of our independent and trained mediators to help guide you towards a resolution of your main differences.
The mediator makes no decisions. That responsibility remains with you and your partner. We simply facilitate a discussion with common aims, guide the process, and present opportunities for resolving differences.
Whether the main issues are financial, custody, or parenting issues, a series of mediation sessions can help keep your divorce out of the courts, saving time and expense and remaining non-adversarial in the process.
A collaborative approach is where you, your spouse, your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer meet together in an open and honest setting in an attempt to reach an agreement on the outstanding issues in a divorce.
To facilitate this, you will sign a written agreement with both attorneys, committing to full disclosure of information and best of faith efforts to resolve matters out of court.
Again, you remain in control of the final decisions and if a proposed settlement is not acceptable to you, there is no need to agree to it. If you do reach an agreement, the lawyers will file the necessary documentation with the court.
With the arbitration process, you and your spouse appoint an official independent arbitrator, who acts as a judge but in a less formal setting than a courtroom.
You and your spouse (or your lawyers) present evidence and the arbitrator will hand down a decision on the outstanding issues remaining in your divorce settlement.
The decision is legally binding and you must both sign documentation committing to abide by the decisions made before proceedings can begin.
At Jennings Family Law, our divorce lawyers, mediators and arbitrators are committed to helping you achieve a prompt and cost-effective divorce agreement that keeps you out of court and is less stressful on all parties concerned.
Contact us today for a confidential free consultation and case evaluation.