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What is the difference between separation and divorce?

As a divorce lawyer in Calgary, I am frequently asked about the difference between separation and divorce.

Once a divorce is granted, the parties are no longer married whereas, during separation, the parties are still married. Many people do not realise that it possible to be separated while still living in the same residence.

Only a Court can grant a divorce and, until such time as a Court does grant a divorce, the parties remain married, even though they may have lived separate and apart for a significant period of time.

When consulted by clients, most family lawyers in Calgary will determine whether the parties simply wish to deal with issues such as custody and access, child support, spousal support and division of matrimonial property, without obtaining a divorce, whether they wish to obtain a divorce without dividing the matrimonial property, or whether they wish to deal with custody and access, child support, spousal support and division of matrimonial property while also obtaining a divorce. Any of these is possible.

If the parties wish to deal with all issues without obtaining a divorce, they will usually be directed towards executing a Separation Agreement. The Separation Agreement can cover custody and access to the children, child support, spousal support and the division of matrimonial property. The only thing it cannot deal with is the divorce, as only a Court can do this. If the parties execute a Separation Agreement and, at a later date, decide to divorce, the papers filed with the Court will refer to the terms of the Separation Agreement and, if it was prepared with the assistance of Calgary family lawyers, it usually results in the divorce proceeding relatively quickly.

Should you wish to discuss separation or divorce with a family lawyer in Calgary, please use this link to send an email to me.

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