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What’s the difference between a Separation Agreement and a Divorce?
A Separation Agreement is a document which contains the agreements relating to your separation or divorce. It contains things like custody, parenting scheduling, communication, child support, spousal support, property division, and other issues relating to your separation. The divorce will be documents submitted to the Court which will cause you and your former spouse to be legally no longer spouses. The divorce documentation will typically have to advise the Court as to your parenting arrangements. It may simply reflect the terms of your Separation Agreement or it may be in lieu of a Separation Agreement. Talk to your lawyer about which document may be most appropriate for your situation.
Do I have to wait a year after separation before starting my divorce?
Most people use “one year separation” as a way to establish the breakdown of their marriage to be eligible for a divorce. To finalize your divorce most often you will need to establish that you have been separated for one year. However, the negotiations surrounding the issues of your divorce can be started anytime. Typically the sooner you start the negotiations the more likely you will be completed and ready to finalize your divorce at the one-year mark.
How do we calculate child support?
Child support is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines. In essence, we take the income of the paying parent, the province of residence of the paying parent, and the number of children, and apply the formulas to calculate child support. Go to the Child Support Calculator to figure out your child support. There are additional considerations if you have a shared (50/50 or 60/40) or split (one or more child at each home) parenting arrangement or if children are over the age of majority.
(Lloydminster AB/SK question) If I live on one side of the border, does it matter if I move to the other side of the border after separation?
In order to apply for a divorce, either you or your spouse has to be resident in a province for one year. If you move to the other side of the border and subsequently want a divorce, you either have to wait for you to have been resident there for one year or your former spouse has to have been residing in their province of residence for a year.
How long does it take to get my divorce finalized?
Technically you only have to be separated for one year in order to finalize your divorce (if you use the one-year separation as your reason for divorce). However, it may be longer if you have not yet negotiated the terms of your separation. It’s best to start the negotiations as soon as possible so that if you want to finalize right at the one-year mark you will be ready to do so.
How much will a divorce cost?
The divorce paperwork itself is typically a flat fee. However, the negotiations to determine the terms of the separation are typically the expensive and lengthy part of any divorce. We operate on an hourly rate basis. We can provide more information at your consultation once we have a better idea of your particular situation.
When can I change my name back to my maiden name after separation?
You can change to your maiden name at anytime – whether during your relationship, during your separation, or after your divorce. Your legal name will always remain as your name on your birth certificate and you are entitled to use that name at anytime.
Can I make my spouse change their name back to their maiden name after separation?
No you cannot. You are permitted to use your married surname while you are married as well as when you are separated or divorced.
Do I have to take my spouse off my extended health / dental benefits through work right after separation?
Most extended health and dental insurance plans allow you to leave your spouse on your benefits so long as you are legally married. You will have to consult your plan administrator to determine what is permitted.
What documentation do I need to provide during my divorce process?
When you work with us, we provide you with a checklist specifying the documentation that you need to provide. We work with you to customize the date range, and we will help you to gather all of the documentation.
My divorce is simple – no kids, no property to divide, and no spousal support payable – how long will it take to process?
Before we can advise on how long it will take to process the divorce, we will need to assess your particular situation. The actual paperwork itself typically takes 6-8 weeks from the date we submit the paperwork until the date that the divorce is issued. However, the negotiations to determine the terms of the divorce can take a few months or longer. We recommend that you start these negotiations as soon as possible so that you are not delayed in submitting the divorce at the one-year mark.
What if I don’t trust the other party?
Trust between the parties is not required for the Family Mediation process to work. Rather than trust, it is more important that both parties are willing to come to the table to openly discuss all of the issues for resolution and to provide all of the information on which the parties will rely to make their decisions. If it is a matter of specifically distrusting the other party, there are ways to ensure that the information you are receiving in the Process is accurate and complete and that the agreements that you make are going to be followed by both parties into the future.
What if we don’t reach agreement in Mediation?
There are times where the Process breaks down. Sometimes, parties have come to Family Mediation after being in a litigation process. If Family Mediation ends without reaching full agreement on all issues, the parties simply return to their lawyers to reconvene the court process. Or, if litigation was not already started then lawyers may need to be hired at this point. As far as what to do with the agreements reached during Family Mediation, The parties have 2 choices: (1) to enter into agreement regarding the terms that continue to be agreeable by both parties, and the remaining issues can be dealt with by the Court, or (2) to abandon all discussions had and agreements reached during the Process and start afresh in a Court system. The initial consultation is extremely important in order to ascertain whether a Family Mediation is appropriate for your family. Your Family Mediator should learn about your situation and ensure that you understand the Process, then assist you to determine your suitability for the Process. This step helps to prevent you from entering into a Process that will not work for you, and may ultimately lead to impasse.
What if we have resolution on some things and don’t want to negotiate those things in Mediation?
You will choose the topics that will be discussed. If you have agreement on certain things, then we may be able to leave them off the table. There are sometimes, though, where Stephanie will be able to add details that had not been considered. If both parties are set on keeping a particular topic “off the table” then that’s ok.
What if the other party will not agree to Mediation?
You have an opportunity to negotiate, and a right to litigate. T his means that you can only do Mediation if both parties agree to enter into the Process. If the one party won’t agree, then you still have a right to resolution, but it will likely be in the litigation environment. The sooner that both parties learn about the various process options available for divorce, the better. Sometimes, parties will enter into the litigation ring without understanding that there are options such as Mediation. Even if the other party has chosen a litigation process, you can still talk to them (directly or through your lawyer) and provide them with information about Mediation; it can’t hurt. However, if the other party is not agreeable to at least a 10-minute phone call with Stephanie to learn more, then it is not possible to enter Mediation.
What if the other party already has a lawyer – can we still use Mediation?
Yes, even if one or both of you have already retained lawyers, Mediation can still be used. You may invite your lawyers to attend each session with you, or you can request that your lawyer stays in the background while the mediation is proceeding. If one or both parties don’t have a lawyer yet, you don’t need to retain a lawyer prior to the mediation being conducted. Many parties choose to keep the meetings as 3-way meetings including the parties and the mediator alone and simply to discuss the final result with their lawyer at the end.
Collaborative Divorce FAQs
How is Collaborative Divorce different from the Court model?
Collaborative Divorce is client-directed and provides an open line of communication between the parties to assist to resolve all issues quickly and efficiently through 4-way meetings. In comparison, the litigation process can be lawyer-directed and most often all communication is channeled through the lawyers.
What if the other party won’t hire a Collaborative Divorce lawyer?
A Collaborative Divorce is only possible if both parties agree to use Collaborative Divorce lawyers and agree to this process. The sooner that both parties learn about the various process options available for divorce, the better. Sometimes, parties will enter into the litigation ring without understanding that there are options such as Collaborative Divorce or even Mediation. If the other party is not agreeable to retaining a Collaborative Divorce lawyer, then you cannot use the Process. In these instances, there are options to use a modified process which still can achieve similar outcomes.
How do I know if I should use Collaborative Divorce or Mediation?
Parties who choose Collaborative Divorce usually want to have lawyer involvement in their process as they negotiate with the other party. The lawyer’s role in the Process is to be an advocate for their client, to ensure that their client’s interests are being met and that their voice is being heard. As well, in Collaborative Divorce the lawyers provide legal advice during each 4-way meeting based on the parties’ situation.
Parties who choose Mediation usually want to do the negotiating directly between them, with the assistance of a Mediator. The Mediator’s role is to be neutral and to ensure that each party is being heard. Most families seem to bring their lawyers in at the end of the negotiation, to provide them with advice only on the final agreement, but Stephanie recommends that you engage your lawyers during the mediation process so that you can receive advice along the way. At the end, Stephanie will typically draft your Separation Agreement to be reviewed by your lawyer.