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What is the difference between separating and divorcing?

Your date of separation is the date on which you an/or your spouse decide to live apart, and do not intend to live together again. Once this occurs, it is important to talk to your spouse about matters such as custody, access and child support. It is also important to work out any issues that deal with spousal support and property, such as the matrimonial home. You can resolve these issues in different ways:

  • You and your spouse can come up with an informal agreement. If one party backs out of this agreement, there will be no legal recourse.
  • You can draft a separation agreement, which is a legal document signed by both spouses. It outlines your agreed upon arrangements. You will both need independent legal advice for this agreement to be binding.
  • If you cannot agree to terms, you can go to court to decide custody, access, support and property issues.

In order to legally end your marriage, you will need a divorce. This is an official order signed by a judge under the federal law called the Divorce Act.