Can you get a “Legal Separation”?
There is no such thing as “legal separation” in British Columbia. When two people, who have been living together in a marriage or marriage-like relationship, decide not to live together in a marriage or marriage-like relation any more, they are separated. So if you are living separate and apart, you are separated.
Do you have to think about divorce now?
No, you do not. You can simply choose to live separate and apart. But remember if you are married, or have been living with another person in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, just living separate and apart does not automatically end the complex web of legal rights and responsibilities you and your spouse have toward each other. To sort things out, you and your spouse can make a written “Separation Agreement” or you can ask a judge to do it for you and get a court order.
Should you get a written separation agreement?
If you have children or own a house or other property together, it’s a good idea to have a written separation agreement when you separate. This is what people usually mean when they talk about a “legal separation.” The agreement, which is a legal contract, can deal with things like:
- Guardianship of the children and parenting plans
- Support payments for children and spouses
- Who will get the family home
- Division of property and debts
- Splitting pensions and the family business
A lawyer should prepare the separation agreement
A separation agreement is an important legal document that impacts your money, your property, your rights to your children, and your future income stream. Mistakes can be costly and impossible or difficult to undo. You should have the advice and consul of an experienced family law lawyer.
You don’t need a separation agreement to separate. But if you have children or property, or need financial support, it’s best to have a written separation agreement prepared by an experienced family law lawyer.