What is Divorce?

A Divorce is an order signed by a judge under a federal statute known as the “Divorce Act” and is required to legally put an end to a marriage. In order to file for divorce in Canada, one would have to submit proof of the breakdown of the marriage. A claim of breakdown can be made:

- If both spouses have resided separately and apart for no less than a year, with the notion that the marriage has ended.
- If a spouse had willingly committed adultery (had sexual relations outside the marriage) and his/her spouse cannot forgive the offense.
- If a spouse has inflicted physical or mental cruelty on his/her partner. This includes both physical acts of violence as well as causing mental trauma.

Any persons who have been legally married anywhere in the world, who intend to be released irreversibly from their marriage, with the outlook that there is no chance of getting back together, can apply for a divorce in Canada. However, either one of the spouses is required to have lived in a Canadian province or territory for a minimum period of a year, immediately prior to applying for the divorce. One is not required to be a citizen of Canada in order to get a divorce in Canada. Upon completing the formalities of divorce, the spouses are provided with a Certificate of Divorce which is legal proof of the termination of their marriage.

The three main financial issues that need to be settled when applying for a divorce are Alimony, Child Support, and Property Division. Alimony is payment that is made from one spouse to his/her significant other. It has nothing to do with child support, and there are no strict rules that govern when, how much, and how long the payments should be. Sometimes during property division, if it is deemed that adequate assets exist, maintenance may not even be required. Maintenance can be modifiable or non modifiable. If modifiable, then maintenance levels can be subject to change.

Child Support is payment made to the spouse handling the parenting responsibilities, in order to ensure that they have the financial means to support their children. These payment amounts depend on the number of children, the gross income of the parents, and other separate costs such as health insurance and child care. These payments are usually made up until a child reaches adulthood, but can be altered if the child has a mental or physical disability.

Property Division is the allotment of marital assets and debts that takes place during a divorce. Real estate, solid property like vehicles and furniture, checking, savings and retirement accounts, as well as financial investments can be treated as marital assets. Debts are liabilities, or the payments that are still owed. Debts can be loans of various kinds, credit and debit card debts, mortgages and the like.

It is important to note that while retaining or giving up certain assets, there may still be some liabilities that are tied to them. What is Divorce?

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