Whether you are married or common-law, once you are no longer living together in a conjugal relationship, you are separated. There is nothing further required to make your separation “legal”. In some cases, you can still be separated even if you temporarily reside in the same home, provided you no longer have a sexual relationship and/or do not act as husband and wife in other ways—for example, you keep your finances separate, no longer attend social functions together and ultimately plan to move to separate residences.

It is strongly recommended that you attempt to reach an agreement and sign a written separation agreement which settles the issues which arise from a separation. A separation agreement can form the evidence of what was agreed to if there is a future dispute about what you agreed to verbally. The agreement should always be in writing for tax or other purposes. In addition, if a separation agreement is complete and covers all the issues arising from your marriage, and is properly executed, you may use it to file for an uncontested divorce.

You should always seek the advice of a lawyer when entering into a separation agreement. Although, there are generic agreements available, they are just that, generic. They may not reflect your unique circumstances and needs. There are also legal requirements under the Divorce Act, for example, the amount of child support, that need to be addressed and if a separation agreement does not address them, a Divorce will not be granted. In order for a separation agreement to have the legal impact you require, it needs to be drafted specifically for you. There is no generic photocopy of a separation agreement that will be able to do this for you. An experienced family law lawyer will use her knowledge to help you create a legal document that is custom-tailored to your circumstances and Nova Scotia laws.

Our experienced family law lawyers work with you to attempt to negotiate a separation agreement. We encourage our clients to present fair and reasonable offers to minimize the emotional and financial costs of separating.

To arrange a consultation with a family law lawyer at Singleton Family Law, call (902) 492-7000.

Common-law Separation

Some people think that if they do not get married it will be easier to separate. That is rarely the case. In Nova Scotia, the Maintenance and Custody Act has provisions whereby one spouse can be entitled to receive or obligated to pay spousal support to their partner upon separation. There are also laws which deal with property division upon separation of common law couples. These laws are based on complicated common law principles such as “unjust enrichment” and “joint family ventures”. Depending on your circumstances a Court could order that your assets be divided or that you pay spousal support to your partner even though you are not married.