When the breakdown of a marriage occurs, emotions are likely to be high and parties may be at extreme odds with each other over what happens next in the relationship. It is important at such a time to carefully consider how to continue to relate to each other, the manner in which their assets will be divided, with whom the children if any will reside if one party moves away from the matrimonial home; support arrangements, and a host of other considerations. Although not legally required, parties may wish to enter into a separation agreement, which is a legally binding contract defining how the parties will deal with issues such as child custody, access, child and spousal support, property division and equalization of net family property, and spousal entitlement to claim against the other’s estate.

Parties may wish to consult their own lawyers who can assist in negotiating and drafting the agreement and providing independent legal advice prior to signing the agreement. Independent legal advice is recommended, so that each party may have the benefit of full knowledge of the implications of the contractual obligations upon signing the agreement. A fair, well-drafted separation agreement can help the parties to clearly determine how they will move on with their lives while providing some closure to the relationship.


Upon a breakdown of the marriage, parties may attempt, successfully or otherwise, to reconcile and resume cohabitation. This reconciliation period can be one in which the parties conscientiously work on rebuilding their relationship and fostering a better sense of communication between each other, or else it can be a time in which the parties realize there is no hope of reviving the relationship.

Should parties reconcile and resume cohabitation for a consecutive period of ninety (90) days or more, they must “start the clock” over again should they subsequently decide to proceed to divorce, since Canadian courts will only recognize an uninterrupted separation period of one (1) year or more as one of the valid grounds for divorce.

Please contact our office for more information about separation and divorce.