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  • Charles Baker

What Is The Difference Between Separation & Divorce?

When people talk about getting separated and getting divorced, it can be difficult to understand the difference as they’re so fundamentally similar in practice. From an outside perspective, both are the act of leaving your spouse, so they must be the same thing – right? What most people do not understand is that there’s a large legal difference between the two.

Laws around these concepts may be specific to your country or region, so you must read up on the legislation specific to your location. For more information on divorce and separation, and the difference between them in Ontario, Canada, keep reading.


The Divorce Act in Canada is a federal one, mandated by the government. The procedure behind getting divorced in Canada is strict, often more complex than in other countries. To file for divorce, you need to have a basis as to why you’re doing it (similar to making an injury claim). Here are the most common grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery: If proven, adultery can act as grounds for an immediate divorce as it goes against marriage vows.

  • Abuse: Similar to adultery, any proof of mental or physical abuse from one party entitles the other party to file for an immediate divorce.

  • Separation: If no other valid criteria are met, the most common way to get divorced requires proof of separation for at least one year.

There are exceptions in which the court won’t allow a legal divorce, even if a separation of one year or more has taken place. Perhaps the most common factor is when a child or children are entitled to support from one or both parties; in this case, a court won’t allow a divorce without determining that Child Support Guidelines have been met and reasonable arrangements have been made.


Unlike certain countries, there is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Canada. Separation is often determined by two people in a marriage or committed relationship ceasing to live together. While separation is not a legal matter in its own right, you should always keep any proof of the separation; this is because being separated for a year or more entitles you to file for divorce.

Separation contracts also exist, wherein a couple may determine the division of property, spousal support, child support and custody of children. Separation contracts should be legal documents, supported by an experienced lawyer. A preexisting marriage or cohabitation contract can’t determine all of this after separation, so a new contract must be created.

How A Divorce Lawyer Can Help

A professional separation and divorce lawyer can assist in making agreements with your spouse before filing for divorce. By implementing legal counsel, you’ll be more well-versed in your rights and what you’re entitled to as you leave your marriage.

A lawyer can also assist in drawing up a separation contract that benefits you if you do not yet qualify for a divorce. Alternatively, if you are the victim of unfaithfulness or abuse, a lawyer will argue your case and ensure you get your divorce and receive proper compensation for physical or emotional damages.

Looking For An Experienced Divorce Lawyer In Newmarket?

If you are in Newmarket or the surrounding area and need an experienced divorce lawyer, look no further than Baker Doodnauth. We are proud to have many years of experience in divorce and separation law, and we’re happy to help you in any way we can. Contact us today and discover how we can help you with all your legal needs.

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