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What legal issues do you need to think about?

If you and your partner are separating or thinking about separating, you need to work out your legal issues. Your family situation will determine your legal issues. But, there are some common things that most partners have to decide. These include:


You and your partner may have to make decisions about:

  • decision-making responsibility, which used to be called custody
  • parenting time, which used to be called access
  • child support

Married and common-law partners have the same custody, access, and child support rights and responsibilities.

Property, assets, and debts

You may have to divide property, assets, or debts.

You also have to think about the matrimonial home and whether you or your partner should move out of it or if you can continue to stay there together until your legal issues have been resolved.

Your right to divide property and to stay in the matrimonial home depends on whether you're married or in a common-law relationship.

Spousal support

You and your partner may have to make decisions about:

  • whether either of you has a right to spousal support
  • the amount of spousal support
  • how long spousal support will be paid

Your right to spousal support is the same whether you're married or in a common-law relationship.


If you're married, you have to decide if you want a divorce. You can usually get a divorce if you've been legally separated for one year. You can apply for a divorce on your own or together with your partner.

Your divorce application may or may not include other issues like child custody and access, child support, spousal support, and dividing property.


If you or your children have experienced family violence, you should think about special plans you may need like:

  • Making a safety plan to leave your home to keep you and your children safe.
  • Getting a restraining order to stop your partner from contacting you.
  • Getting an order for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home so that you and your children can stay in the home temporarily.
  • Getting a non-removal order to stop your partner from taking the children out of the province or country.