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Separation Vs. Divorce: What’s The Difference?

Separation vs. Divorce: What’s the Difference?

Separation and divorce are often used interchangeably, but they have significantly different legal definitions. A Separation is an informal process that occurs when a relationship breaks down, and the parties opt to go their separate ways but remain legally married. A divorce is a more formal process as the courts become involved and legal documents are filed.

In both processes, legal action can be taken to ensure the rights of both parties. In a separation, parties can enter into a Separation Agreement, which is a legally binding document detailing the terms of their separation, which can include division of property, child and/or spousal support, parenting matters and any other terms the parties wish to include and agree upon. In a divorce, one party must file a Statement of Claim for Divorce, which sets out an overview of matters to be resolved and then submit a Divorce Judgment and request a divorce certificate. Often, parties enter into a Separation Agreement and then put those terms into formal court proceedings to obtain their Divorce Judgment.

When Is Separation The Best Option?

Couples may opt to proceed with a separation for various reasons. For example, it is easy to reconcile if you are separated and have no legal proceedings.

A separated spouse can still take advantage of health insurance coverage from the other’s employment, and they can jointly file taxes, leading to potential benefits. It also allows couples to retain marital status to claim Social Security and military benefits, which require at least ten years of marriage.

When Is Divorce The Best Option?

Divorce may be favoured in certain circumstances.

If a separation provides no advantage, you’re certain about ending your marriage and amicable with your spouse, opting for a divorce may save time and money by avoiding two legal processes. Additionally, if you plan on remarrying, a divorce is necessary, as you cannot legally remarry while still married. Divorce also completely severs ties, eliminating mutual decision-making in medical or financial matters.

Both separation and divorce have unique attributes, and a divorce lawyer can best guide you on the suitable choice for your situation.

The most common ground for filing for divorce in Alberta is separating for at least one year. As family and divorce lawyers in Calgary, our role in separation and divorce is to assist clients with understanding their options with respect to the following:

  • Spousal rights;
  • Parental rights;
  • Guardianship; and
  • Settling disputes, etc.

Do I Need A Family Or Divorce Lawyer To Separate From My Spouse In Alberta?

You and your partner can negotiate and reach agreements without legal counsel. However, if you enter into a Separation Agreement or proceed with filing a Statement of Claim, you would likely benefit from legal advice during the process to ensure your agreements follow the law and are legally binding/enforceable. It is important to note that if you opt to sign a Separation Agreement, both parties will need a lawyer to provide independent legal advice to ensure it is legally binding in Alberta.

If you are considering separation or divorce, consulting a divorce lawyer like Jones Divorce & Family Law in Calgary is highly recommended.

Our lawyers can help draw up a Separation Agreement. A lawyer will ensure your Agreement is legally binding, includes all relevant clauses, and will advocate for fairness on your behalf.

Connect with us to set up an initial consultation today.

Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.