Separation

When people are married or are in an ‘adult interdependent relationship’ end their relationship and begin living apart from each other, they are separated. There is no such thing as a ‘legal separation’ in Canada, but being separated for a year is one of the grounds for divorce.

Adult interdependent relationship

Any of these relationships is considered an ‘adult interdependent relationship’:

  • interdependence with another adult for 3 years
  • less than 3 years if you’ve signed an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement
  • less than 3 years if you have had a biological child together

If people in an adult interdependent relationship are separated for 1 year, their relationship is officially considered to have ended. Partners of an adult independent relationship may also end their relationship by an agreement.

Separation agreements

A separation agreement is a contract between parties who are separating or divorcing. These usually deal with issues such as:

  • where your children will live and what time periods they will spend with the other parent
  • how much child support will be paid
  • how much spousal support will be paid
  • how property is divided

It is possible for you and your former spouse or partner to write an agreement yourselves, but it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer.

Annulment

An annulment is a court order that says that your marriage did not exist or was not valid – this is different from a divorce, which ends a valid marriage that previously existed. When a marriage is annulled, it ends immediately.

Annulments are only possible to obtain in rare situations such as:

  • your spouse was already married to another person when they married you
  • you married the person only because someone threatened your physical safety
  • you were impaired by drugs or alcohol to the point that you did not understand you were going through the marriage ceremony
  • you thought you were marrying one person, but it was actually another person
  • if the person you married is unable to consummate the marriage
  • if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, you did not have your parent’s consent, and you did not consummate the marriage

Sometimes a church or other religious institution might grant an annulment. This is different from a legal annulment.

You will need to speak with a lawyer to discuss an annulment.