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Ontario family law: How separation affects financial obligations

When a couple separates, there are still financial obligations to be met. Under family law in Ontario, even if a couple is separated but not divorced, assets have to be considered. Federal rules govern issues surrounding support while property issues come under the provincial umbrella. Income that stems from a business is also up for consideration when figuring the division of assets.

Both spouses are on the hook to meet any financial obligations incurred as a married couple, unless a separation agreement stipulates otherwise. Such an agreement can speak to things like who pays which bills and who keeps which assets. Having a clear outline of these obligations ensures that each individual understands his or her part in transitioning to living separate lives, yet still remaining married.

Studies have shown that separated couples who iron out these details using open communication are less likely to experience undue financial stress. Being specific when highlighting financial obligations when separated is extremely important. As well as physical, tangible objects, any agreement could include more esoteric items such as corporate shares, interests in timeshare properties and the like.

Obtaining independent legal advice regarding points associated with separation may help in fashioning a separation agreement. Any domestic agreement in Ontario can include a marriage contract, cohabitation agreement or separation agreement. An experienced lawyer who specializes in family law would be able to assist a client in writing a good, airtight domestic contract that would hold up to court scrutiny. There is no one-size-fits-all separation agreement; they are as individual as the couple, and a lawyer understands this principle.

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