As a family law lawyer with over 20 years of practice in Vancouver, I am frequently asked questions that suggest there is a lot of misinformation and myths about divorce. We would like to set these myths straight by providing you with “10 Divorce Facts That You Need to Know”.
#1 – You might be separated but not divorced. Even when you and your spouse have decided to end your relationship and no longer live as a married couple, you are not legally divorced until the court issues a divorce order. For an explanation on the difference between separation and divorce, see the article “Divorce vs. Separation – What is the Difference?”.
#2 – The most common grounds for divorce is separation. To be granted a divorce, you and your spouse must have been living separate and apart for one year or more.
#3 – If you ended the relationship but have continued living in the same home, you may still be considered legally separated. Some of the factors a court might consider in making this determination include whether you have divided your bank accounts and expenses, whether you sleep together, whether you no longer share meals, and whether you no longer attend social events and family functions together.
#4 – Applying for divorce on the grounds of adultery can prove difficult and expensive, even where you have evidence of an affair.
#5 – Annulments are rarely granted by the courts, and are reserved for extreme circumstances and are typically sought for religious reasons.
#6 – Generally, spouses are entitled to 50% of all “family property” and are responsible for 50% of “family debts” unless an agreement between the spouses states otherwise or it would be unjust given the circumstances.
#7 – If you receive a gift or inheritance during your marriage, it should be excluded from your “family property” and not subject to equalization with your former spouse.
#8 – If you’re concerned that assets you held prior to your relationship could become subject to equalization upon separation, hold them in separate accounts and do not co-mingle them with family accounts or use them to purchase assets enjoyed by the whole family. However, be aware that any appreciation of, or income earned on those assets will be subject to equalization regardless of how you manage them.
#9 – If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, such as whether spousal support will be paid, how assets and debts will be divided and what the parenting arrangements will be, there is no need for a messy drawn out court battle. These issues can be resolved through a simple court application and/or separation agreement.
#10 – If your spouse has informed you that they would like a divorce, you cannot stop them from applying for one. So long as issues arising from the marriage have been dealt with, such as property division, spousal support, child support and parenting, the court will likely grant the divorce whether you agree to a divorce or not. There is no way to prevent a divorce by refusing to sign “divorce papers”. However, if you fail to respond to a Notice of Family Claim (i.e. the originating document that begins a divorce), the court will presume that you agree to all of the orders that your former spouse might be seeking, which might go well beyond a divorce order.
We hope this article, “10 Divorce Facts That You Need to Know” has helped to dispel some of the myths about divorce and answers your questions. Should you have any further questions or require help with applying for a divorce or drafting a separation agreement, please contact us at 604-449-7779.