Separation and Divorce: Relationship Breakdown

“Separation” refers to the breakdown of either a marital or a common-law relationship: the parties are living separate and apart without reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

For family law purposes, a separation does not require that the parties live in separate homes, only that they no longer live as spouses do. Among the considerations that determine whether separation has occurred are the following:

– do the parties continue to have sexual relations?

– do the parties eat meals together?

– do the parties socialize together?

– do the parties provide domestic services for one another?

The fact of separation is of importance, as it triggers claims that may be brought for custody and access, support and division of property. Further, for married persons, the date of separation is a crystallizing date in valuing property for purposes of property division.

“Divorce” can only be granted between married persons. A divorce is an order made by a court of competent jurisdiction which dissolves a marriage. An application for divorce may be made by either spouse. Accordingly, married persons can sometimes be separated, but not divorced.

Parties are not divorced simply by completing a Separation Agreement.


Photo: Craig Cloutier: Flickr Creative Commons License. Cropped; changed to black and white.