The law views spousal relationships as economic partnerships and when the partnership break down the person with more money may have to support the other. There is no black and white answer as to how much spousal support one spouse will pay the other. Every case is unique and is decided upon based on the unique facts of every case. The law states that Judges must look at how much the person asking for support needs to live, and how much the other person can pay. Generally, a short marriage will not warrant a large amount of spousal support, whereas a longer one will. Again, there are no simple answers when it comes to spousal support. Factors taken into consideration include, the age and health of the couple, available employment opportunities, the effect that being married had on the employment opportunities of the couple, contribution to family care during the marriage, the contribution made to the other’s career, the time it will take for the person to become self-sufficient, and the need to stay at home to take care of young children or adult children with a disability. If you can agree on the amount of support that will be paid and for how long it will be paid, then you can include this in your separation agreement.
To legally end your marriage you must get a divorce. Some people think that being separated and living apart ends their marriage, but this is not true. You must be legally divorced before you can marry again. The only reason you need for a divorce is a marriage breakdown. The law accepts that there has been a breakdown of your marriage if you can prove that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for at least 1 year, without living together in that one year period for more than 90 days. It is not necessary that both spouses want a divorce in order for a divorce to be granted. If one spouse wants a divorce, then they can apply unilaterally. Either spouse can apply for a divorce, or it can be done jointly. There are no time limits after the 1 year separation period to apply for a divorce.
DIVISION OF MATRIMONIAL PROPERTY (Equalization):
The law says that married spouses share responsibility for childcare, household management and earning income during their marriage. According to the law, marriage is an equal partnership. When a marriage ends, the partnership is over and property has to be divided. To recognize the equal contribution of each person, the general rule is that the value of any property that you acquired during your marriage and that you still have when you separate must be divided equally, 50-50. Property that you brought with you into your marriage is yours to keep if your marriage ends. Any increase in the value of this property during your marriage must be shared. The value of the family home, otherwise known as the matrimonial home, must be shared even if one of you owned the home before you were married. There are exceptions to the division of property which include gifts received during your marriage from someone other than your spouse, property that you inherited during your marriage, insurance proceeds because someone died and settlement funds as a result of a personal injury such as a car accident. You and your spouse can agree to a different split, or in some cases you can ask the court to divide things differently.
When a married couple is separated, are not living together and there is no chance of reconciliation, they can organize their relationship in a way that is amicable and agreeable to them both. Like a temporary or final court order, a separation agreement can provide for temporary or final conditions and terms that govern the family affairs of the couple whose relationship has broken-down. Issues such as custody, access, child support, spousal support and matrimonial property can all be dealt with in a separation agreement. A separation agreement must be signed by both spouses in front of a witness for it to be legal. Independent legal advice (ILA) is highly recommended to bind a separation agreement.
INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADIVCE:
Independent Legal Advice is required to solidify and bind a separation agreement. Each party to a separation agreement is entitled to receive independent legal advice from a lawyer who would advise him/her as to their legal rights in law and in application of those rights to the agreement. A party signing the agreement without obtaining independent legal advice could potentially bring the final agreement under review in a court of law. An unrepresented spouse could always then argue that they were not aware what their rights were. Independent legal advice provides legal validity to a separation agreement and is always highly recommended.