Helping you through separation and divorce

You have decided to separate from your spouse, now what? When married or common-law spouses decide to separate, it is never easy and every situation is unique. Nelligan O’Brien Payne’s family lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and provide you with advice and guidance on how to move forward based on your particular circumstances.


You and your spouse are considered to be separated as soon as one of you decides that the relationship is over, and that there is no ‘reasonable chance of reconciliation’. You can still physically live in the same house as long as you are living ‘separate and apart’, meaning that you are both living independent lives while sharing common accommodation, and there is no chance that you will ‘get back together’. In Ontario, there is no legal formality to go through to be ‘separated’ so long as the above threshold is met. Once you have separated, you and your spouse can negotiate and enter into a separation agreement to settle any issues arising from your separation. You can learn more about preparing separation agreements and resolving family law disputes.


After ‘living separate and apart’ for one year, either party can apply to court for a divorce. The law in Ontario does not require the consent of both spouses to grant a divorce. There is only one necessary ground for divorce, which is marriage breakdown and being separated for one year. Before granting a divorce, a court will ensure that there is no possibility of reconciliation, and that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children of the marriage. If no arrangements are in place, or if the arrangements are inadequate, the court may delay the granting of a divorce until such arrangements are made. Unless a divorce is contested by the other spouse, the court process is typically one that is limited to filing certain completed forms and paper work, and in most cases, there is no need for a hearing or actual attendance at court.

We can help you with any issues related to your separation or divorce

Our experience allows our lawyers to provide you with family law services that focus on finding solutions to issues related to your separation or divorce that work for you. Issues that we can help you resolve, regardless of how simple or complex, include: