Navigating the legal system or any family case is always an overwhelming experience. That is especially true when you have been married or lived with your common-law partner for a long time.
You need to worry about hiring a lawyer, going through negotiations, and more. All of this can take an emotional and mental toll.
To make your life easier, our separation lawyer in Canada has answered the most common questions people ask during such cases.
Here are the top 20 questions to ask lawyer about separation in Canada and the answers to expect.
Questions to Ask Lawyer about Separation in Canada
We have separated the questions into different categories. Let’s review the top questions to ask lawyer about separation in Canada:
1. What is the Difference between Separation & Divorce?
Separation is typically when you are physically separated from your spouse. In some cases, you may live under the same roof but are living separate lives. You might still be legally married, but you are not living together.
However, there are instances where you can be legally separated from your spouse by creating a separation agreement in Canada to sort out your matters.
On the other hand, a divorce is when you legally terminate or dissolve your marriage with your spouse. The only way to get a divorce is to complete the appropriate documentation where you claim a divorce.
The court will then provide you with a divorce order, and you will officially be divorced. Be sure to opt for the right family law attorney to help with your divorce proceedings.
2. Do I Need a Separation Agreement in Canada?
A separation agreement in Canada is not a necessity, but we recommend this to all our clients. The agreement is helpful, as it ensures:
- How you will be separating from your spouse
- Protection of the rights of you and your spouse
- Property division
- Parenting responsibilities
- Child and spousal support
- And much more
Such an agreement will give you peace of mind, as you will know that all your matters have been sorted. We recommend hiring the best separation lawyer in Canada to draft or review your agreement for optimal results.
3. How Long Do You Have to Live Apart to Count As Separation?
There is no limit to how long you have to live apart to count as separation in Canada. Separation can take place when one or both people decide they want to live apart from one another.
To get divorced, in most cases, you need to live separately for at least one year. If you reconcile the relationship for 90 days, the clock starts again.
Many people separate but still live in the same house. Most people find this to be a more difficult arrangement, but this also counts as separation.
4. Is it Better to Take my Spouse to Court or Negotiate a Separation Agreement?
One of the top questions to ask lawyer about separation in Canada is whether you can negotiate a separation agreement or you can take your spouse to court.
Our family law attorney recommends that you only take your spouse to court as a last resort. A court trial is time-consuming, costly, and can take an emotional and mental toll on you.
We recommend that the first step you should take is to negotiate a separation agreement with your spouse. The cost is lower, and it will also take less time.
On the other hand, you and your spouse will have full control over the separation agreement as you can craft your terms. If you take the matter to court, a judge will have control over your matters.
So, it is vital to think about these aspects before deciding whether to take your spouse to court or craft a separation agreement.
5. Can I Change the Terms of the Separation Agreement?
Having an amendment in the separation agreement that states you can change the terms of the agreement will allow you to make this happen.
Both spouses should agree to this amendment, and you must sign it to guarantee it is.
On the other hand, if your spouse doesn’t agree to change the terms, then you will have to make an application to the court that you require the terms to be changed.
Remember that the circumstances should be significant to make such changes to your agreement and opt for a request.
For example, you can request to change the terms of the agreement if you are relocating and you want to ensure that your child relocates with you.
A separation lawyer in Canada will provide you with the best advice on what you need to do under these circumstances.
Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer about Custody
If there are children involved during the separation process, then it is crucial to create a list of important questions to ask a divorce lawyer about custody.
Our divorce attorney has answered these questions for you to help provide more clarity regarding these important matters.
6. How Will the Custody of the Children be Determined?
The custody of the children is an important matter, and you might have to involve the court in this. After reviewing your case, the courts will determine what will be in the best interests of the child.
For example, the court will review the role of each parent in the child’s upbringing. If one child has been the primary caregiver, then that parent will probably get physical custody of the child.
On the other hand, if both parents have been heavily involved, then the court can give the order of a joint custody or parenting solution.
In such a situation, both parents must cooperate and communicate to raise the child properly. Remember that the court will not offer joint custody if both parents can’t seem to cooperate on child matters.
7. What is the Difference between Sole and Joint Custody?
There are two types of custody that the parents can get regarding the child. One is sole custody, and the other is joint custody.
When a parent has sole custody, the child will reside with the parent chosen full-time. The parent they live with will have the authority to make important decisions about the child’s:
- Extracurricular activities
- And much more
On the other hand, joint custody is when both parents have to consult with one another regarding all the matters of the child. Typically, one parent gets full-time access while the other gets regular access.
Most people opt for joint custody so that the child is not cut off from both parents. Both parents have equal decision-making power for their children when they share joint custody.
Financial Questions to Ask a Separation or Divorce Attorney
Finances are an important part of anyone’s life. Because of this, it is crucial to ask financial questions about separation in Canada.
Let’s review some of the top questions you can ask regarding finances when you are going through a separation with your spouse:
8. How Much Child Support Will I Have to Pay during Separation?
The law dictates how much child support you will have to pay during separation. We recommend you go through the federal child support guidelines to figure out how much you will have to pay.
There is a table you will find in the guidelines that will indicate how much you have to pay. We still recommend opting for a separation lawyer who can double-check this amount.
It will guarantee you are on the right path with your child support payments and have no issues in the future.
9. In What Circumstances Will I Have to Pay Spousal Support?
A difference in income means that one spouse will always earn more than the other. If that is the case, then the spouse with the higher income will have to make payments to the spouse with the lower income.
As a general rule of thumb, if one spouse is earning at least $15,000 or more than the other spouse, then they will have to make spousal support payments.
There are also other factors that can come into play in this matter, such as child support. Such factors will affect the amount that the spouse will get.
Every case is unique, and a family law attorney can help you determine the estimates regarding these matters.
10. How Will the Payment of Debts be divided between Each Spouse?
Each spouse will be responsible for their personal debt in the event of a separation. If you have any debts, you are liable to pay them by yourself, and your spouse will not pay any portion of your debt.
However, if you have joint debts, such as a mortgage, then you and your partner will be responsible for it.
Another note to keep in mind is that when you sell your home during a separation, any credit you have secured against your property or home will be an aspect of your home sale.
Our separation lawyer in Canada will let you know in detail if you have a marital home that you want to sell. Property division is an important part of any separation or divorce.
11. What is Financial Disclosure during a Separation?
Financial disclosure is crucial for transparency during a separation. You and your spouse are responsible for exchanging all important information about one another, such as debts, assets, income, and more.
All of this is known as financial disclosure. A separation lawyer will require such disclosure so that they can offer you knowledgeable and sound legal advice.
Important decisions, such as spousal support and child support, will depend on your financial disclosure.
If you want a fair settlement, then we recommend providing this information accurately to your attorney.
12. What are the Costs of Hiring a Separation Lawyer in Canada?
The costs of hiring a separation lawyer in Canada will depend on various factors. The fees of family law attorneys vary greatly because of expertise, services, and many other factors that need to be taken into account.
According to a legal fees survey done in Canada in 2021, the average cost of a separation agreement is over $7,000. However, if you don’t have children, then the agreement will cost you over $5,000.
On the other hand, if you decide to go to court, then this will cost you even more. It is crucial to do extensive research on the separation lawyers in your region to have a more accurate representation of the cost you will incur.
Questions to Ask Separation Lawyer about Communication
Communication is an important part of any legal issue. This is why this is one of the top questions to ask lawyer about separation in Canada.
These questions are important to gauge the transparency of the family law attorney and if they are suitable for your case.
Here are some questions we recommend you ask them and some possible answers you can expect:
13. How often will you communicate with me about my Case?
A reputable family law attorney will never be hesitant to answer this question. They will let you know how they will communicate and when you can expect answers from them regarding their queries.
One thing to keep in mind is that the complexity of the case will determine the communication as well. For example, if your case is highly complex, then your separation lawyer will have to stay in communication more with you.
So, be sure to ask your lawyer this question and not leave until you are satisfied with their answer.
14. What is your Primary Mode of Communication with the Clients?
Different lawyers have different modes of communication. Some of the most common modes of communication include email, phone calls, video meetings, or in-person meetings.
Good family law attorneys will have various modes of communication, depending on the case. For example, minor matters may only require email or phone calls.
On the other hand, if the case is complex and you can’t be physically available, then an online meeting will be a great option. A good lawyer will adapt to the needs of the clients and the case, and this is one quality you need to be on the lookout for.
15. How Will I Receive Copies of My Paperwork?
In today’s world, there are various methods through which a separation lawyer can communicate and send paperwork to their clients. For example, there is direct mail, electronic methods, tools such as DropBox, and much more.
Remember that the case information is sensitive, which is why attorneys must opt for a secure method to send you the case paperwork. Direct mail is an outdated method and not too secure.
We recommend you ask lawyer about the pros and cons of the method they choose to send the paperwork. Then, you can decide whether it is the right option for your case needs.
16. What Are Some Steps I Can Follow to Keep Communication Between My Spouse And Me Amicable?
People separate for a reason, and you might still have a lot of complicated emotions toward your spouse, such as resentment and anger.
In the face of such emotions, it can be difficult to have amicable communication with your spouse. Be sure to ask the separation lawyer this question so they can let you know what steps you can follow for better communication.
Questions to Ask Separation Lawyers about the Legal System
The legal system is intimidating for anyone who is new to it and opting to talk to lawyers, be it for a settlement or trial. It is always good to have questions to ask a separation lawyer about the legal system to ease your anxieties.
Let’s review some of the top questions you can ask and what answers to expect from a good family law attorney:
17. If I Can’t Afford a Separation Lawyer, Can I Get Legal Aid or Help with My Case?
The Legal Aid Program in Canada promotes access to justice for anyone who does not have the means to opt for a family law attorney.
So, if you are economically disadvantaged and you need help with your case, then we recommend you opt for the legal aid program.
On the other hand, if you don’t qualify for legal aid and you can’t afford a separation lawyer in Canada, then you can opt for unbundled legal services.
Such services can help you with parts of your case, and they are less costly than hiring a lawyer.
The People’s Law School Directory of Lawyers in British Columbia has a list of lawyers who offer such services and how you can get their help. You can find similar lists in your region.
18. Can I Turn the Separation Agreement into a Court Order?
Any couple that files their separation at a court registry can ensure that the court can enforce some part of the agreement. These parts include things such as spousal support, child support, parenting arrangements, and more, as if they were court orders.
We recommend you connect with the separation lawyer to ensure how they can make this happen. Then, if you need any protection, the courts can enforce parts of the agreement on the spouse if they fail to meet their duties.
19. How Can I Prepare for a Case in the Court?
If your case is going to court, then your separation lawyer will prepare you best for this process. They will let you know about the process you can expect, the questions, the documents you must prepare, and more.
When you have the right family law attorney by your side, you don’t need to worry about the court process. They will be responsible for preparing you for the case from start to finish.
20. What Paperwork Do I Need to Provide For a Separation or Divorce?
Depending on your case, you will have to prepare and submit different documents and paperwork. Regardless of the process, you must submit proof of identification, residency, marriage certificates, and much more.
A good lawyer will provide you with the right details on what paperwork you will have to submit. Then, you can collect the documents and submit them without any issues.
These were the top 20 questions to ask lawyer about separation in Canada. Now that you have all the information, you can find the best family law attorney and screen them with these questions.
For more information regarding your separation case, please feel free to get in touch with our separation lawyer in Canada. We will be more than happy to help you out.
- Athena Narsingh is a trusted and knowledgeable lawyer in Scarborough. Her expertise spans real estate law, family law, adoptions and fertility law. A lawyer by profession and a humanitarian by heart, Athena Narsingh wants to help people become more familiar with the legal system and be well-informed to make important legal decisions.
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