To schedule an appointment, please call us at:
Alt Divorce

Ottawa Mediation Law Blog

Mediation can help Ontario common-law couples that separate

It bears repeating that Ontario law treats the dissolution of legal marriage and that of a common-law union very differently. That said, some common-law relationships endure for decades, and, as in formal marriages, accumulate property and assets, and, along the way, parent children. In such cases, mediation may provide invaluable information on the legal differences as well as helping to reduce conflict.

A family law practice which offers professional mediation to its clients frequently has resources available to address issues common to both formal and common-law unions. Examples are child custody and access, and property and debt sharing and division. Yet, without guidance, a common-law couple planning to dissolve a longstanding living arrangement may be shocked at the stark contrast in the legal treatment of the very same issues, according to whether or not the union is a legal one.

Could negotiation be the right approach for your divorce?

Once you and your spouse decide that your marriage is over, there are ways to make the divorce process less stressful. One of those ways is by negotiating the legalities. It's likely an emotional time for you both with perhaps some less-than-positive emotions. However, by communicating your wishes to each other -- either face to face, on the phone or through emails -- you might save a lot of time, costs and possible anxiety. You can do this with a mediator if being alone together is too emotionally volatile.

It is highly recommended that you and your former partner have separate legal counsel during this time. Negotiations don't have to be formal or adhere to any rules. Negotiating is about what works best for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. But, anything you agree on should be written into a separation agreement -- including things like spousal and/or child support and custody particulars.

What role can social media play in separation or divorce?

Most Ontario parents want what is best for their children. This concern often continues even in the event of a separation or divorce. More and more couples are choosing to avoid litigation and opt for mediated or collaborative divorces, which are mostly amicable, and most parents will do whatever they can to maintain loving parent-child relationships throughout the proceedings and beyond.

A social work professor at King’s University College is orchestrating a study to learn more about the role social media can play when families break up. The intent of the study is to provide information for judges and lawyers who are involved in child custody decisions. It is believed that social media could play a beneficial role by allowing continued communication between many parents and their children – especially when one parent relocates.

Avoiding unwelcome surprises through Ontario mediation

It may sound peculiar, but -- for some -- the idea of marriage is akin to buying a bundle of preconceptions and expecting lifelong personal fulfillment. For centuries, our culture has been imbued with exalted ideals about married life that work against the realities of a shared life, with all its accompanying hopes, dreams and goals. However, those same standards of success can be applied to the mediation process, particularly when assisted by an Ontario family law practitioner.

A recent study concluded that marrying with high expectations can sometimes provoke marital dissatisfaction. Results from the same study, however, indicated that low expectations could be equally pernicious. What was most revealing was that open communication, rather than reticence, could, in fact, strengthen a relationship. In effect, communication proved to be central to any relationship whether in moving forward together or in choosing to dissolve a formal marriage.

Collaborative family law encompasses a wide range of issues

It can be heart wrenching when someone hears a spouse or partner say, "I don't want to be with you anymore." Sometimes, it's put in writing or demonstrated by moving out of the bedroom or by any number of actions that signal the end of a union. The starting point for a legal separation agreement is a mutually recognized date of separation. In Ontario, collaborative family law recognizes that in the end lies the potential for reconfiguring still-meaningful relationships.

Most separating couples are likely unaware that under Canadian law there is no legal concept of separation per se, except as one of the grounds for divorce. It is, rather, the agreement to separate -- embodied in a legal separation agreement -- which is legally enforceable. In most provinces, divorce can only be filed one year after the date of separation. Apart from the obvious intimate indications, that crucial date can also be ascertained through documentary evidence such as tax status forms or from assertions made through social media.

True predictors of Ontario separation and divorce remain elusive

Experts insist that key predictors of divorce do, in fact, exist even though there is evidence that marriages dissolve for myriad reasons. Indeed, many Ontario marriages endure a lifetime, defying statistics based exclusively on behaviour identified as not constructive. The level and intensity of commitment and communication as well as basic character come into play in every one-on-one relationship. When separation and divorce are contemplated, these less measurable elements as well as behaviour will play crucial roles in how the path forward taps out.

A social psychology institute which has conducted extensive research into the causes of divorce has identified contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling as behavioral choices that may be primordial markers of potential divorce. These researchers claim that these demonstrate disengagement from pursuing resolution to marital problems. However, such markers fail to account for how profound an undertaking marriage is, for one or both spouses.

Ontario separation and divorce view hearth and home differently

Timing and status are paramount in the eyes of the law. The legal status of men and women in Ontario changes according to their marital status -- whether single, common-law, married, separated or divorced. When separation and divorce are contemplated, the courts follow laws governing the division of assets that may seem, to the layman, like a maze constructed of one technicality atop another.

It can be particularly challenging because agreements made at the time of separation do not necessarily apply when divorce is in the offing. In a formal separation, the matrimonial home continues to bear a somewhat protected status relative to each spouse. As divorce proceedings commence, it can come as a shock to learn that the right to possession for one spouse or the other may no longer pertain.

Stay or leave: How mediation lends a hand to Ontario couples

Deciding to unite in marriage is not to be taken lightly, to paraphrase words invoked at the moment of commitment. The same may be said of the moment the decision to dissolve a marriage is made. Each in their own way signifies a dramatic life change for Ontario spouses, and the leave-taking transition may be the optimum time to seek mediation with the help of an experienced family law practitioner.

Recently, two noted universities teamed up to study the reasons that drive relationship satisfaction and those that promote the ending of relationships. Conducted in two phases, the focus groups were comprised of both unmarried and married couples who were contemplating breaking up or divorce. The results showed a marked difference in responses from married couples when it came to remaining together.

How separation and divorce in Ontario affects pet-loving couples

Part of the extreme distress that often characterizes the dissolution of a marriage is realizing that virtually everything that made up the warp and woof of one's daily life will now be legally viewed as divisible. Furniture that one spouse may regard as a sentimental keepsake and the other spouse views indifferently tallies up as a shared asset. As such, it may unexpectedly create a potentially fractious scenario. Ontario couples embarking on separation and divorce may encounter one dismaying discovery after another.

Without adequate preparation and appropriate legal advice, dismantling a marriage may be the cause of misperceptions and highly charged emotions. Previously agreed-upon decisions about assets acquired during the union or brought into the marriage may now elicit intense disagreement. Even with the best intentions to move forward cooperatively, a couple may find that the process of separation and divorce evokes memories and emotions that can thwart their progress.

A happy divorce: An oxymoron no more

Divorce has never been synonymous with happiness, but the process has undergone some evolution over the last few years. After saying their "I do's", few couples ever anticipate that one day they'll be calling it quits and finding themselves fighting over who gets the Martini glasses and who gets the microwave. Yet, when it's over, it's over. Fortunately, in the legal landscape of divorce, there is an alternative that can make the separation process if not happifying, then at least more smooth and amicable.

When you're on the same page as your soon-to-be former partner, you can both look at the situation realistically even though volatile emotions may still be a part of the equation. And when you really think about it, the unhappiness that was likely a part of the relationship for some time is also coming to an end, and you and your ex can hopefully now move forward positively. An important part of coming to that realization is pursuing an alternative means of divorce rather than litigation.

Schedule An Appointment 1-844-427-4373
You may also complete our contact form Contact Us


Embrun Center
964 Notre-Dame Street
P.O. Box 749
Embrun, ON K0A 1W0

Toll Free: 844-427-4373
Phone: 613-702-3347
Fax: 613-249-7400

33 - 5330 Canotek Road
Ottawa, ON K1J 9C4

Toll Free: 844-427-4373
Phone: 613-699-7774
Fax: 613-746-7887
Map & Directions

World Exchange Plaza
1150 A - 45 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4

Toll Free: 844-427-4373
Phone: 613-702-3347
Fax: 613-249-7400
Map & Directions

200 A - 38 Auriga Drive
Nepean, ON K2E 8A5

Toll Free: 844-427-4373
Phone: 613-699-7774
Fax: 613-746-7887
Map & Directions