The end of a relationship is a challenging time. It’s important to understand what it means to be “separated” from your spouse or partner, as this will have an impact on things like when you’ll be allowed to get divorced. We find that sometimes clients can’t pinpoint the exact day or time they separated, so this blog post will help you know how to separate from your spouse or partner.
It’s important to note that family law differs from province to province, so this blog post is focused on Alberta.
For two people to be able to separate, they must first be in a relationship. Seems obvious we know, but you’d be surprised to know that sometimes we find there was never a sufficient relationship to meet the criteria.
What is a relationship?
For married couples, this is straightforward. The couple married and have now decided to separate, which is the first step towards a divorce.
Where the couple isn’t married, the Government of Alberta has defined an Adult Interdependent Partnership as a relationship between two people where the couple have:
- Lived together for at least 3 years, or
- A child together (by birth or adoption), or
- Entered into an Adult Interdependent Partner agreement
If the couple meets one of the above criteria, they’ll be considered to be in an Adult Interdependent Relationship.
How to separate?
When the relationship comes to an end, this can take a variety of forms. In the eyes of the law, the couple may decide:
- To end the relationship by agreement. This is akin to a contract where they agree their relationship is over, and make a written record of decisions like where the children will live and how property will be divided.
- To live apart. Once a couple has lived apart for 1 year, the relationship is considered to have ended.
Some complicating factors are discussed below.
What if we try to reconcile but it doesn’t work?
Temporary reconciliation can complicate the separation, but both the Divorce Act and the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act speak to this. Married and common law couples who have separated, can resume living together for up to 90 days without affecting the one year clock for you to be eligible to get divorced. However, once you’re back together for more than 90 days, then any future separation will start from scratch. Naturally, this could become complicated, so it’s best to speak with experienced lawyers who will help navigate an easier divorce process.
What if we live in the same house?
Sometimes a couple will separate but for a range of reasons, they’ll still be living together in the same home. This might be because of finances, or it might make it easier to look after the children.
The important thing here is what your intention is. Provided you intend to be separate and not in a couple any more, then that will count as separation. You should be sleeping in separate rooms and no longer acting as though you’re in a relationship.
If you are still living together, filing a separation agreement is particularly important to establish the date the relationship ended.
Getting a separation agreement in place
You can read more about getting a Separation Agreement in Calgary. If you’re struggling to agree on the details of the separation agreement, working with an experienced family law lawyer in Calgary will help you reach a solution which works for both parties.
We’ve also written about the situation where your spouse or partner might refuse to sign a separation agreement, if you’re facing that issue.
Separations are a stressful and emotional time, which is why it’s important to work with an expert family lawyer to protect your best interests. Did you know that we won Best Lawyers in Calgary in 2020 and 2021 thanks to public votes? Arrange an initial consultation with Richmond Tymchuk Family Law today.