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In Ontario, there are two types of relationships: marriage and common-law relationships.


  1. Marriage: a legal relationship between two people who have participated in a marriage ceremony and obtained a marriage license.

  2. Common-law: a common law couple, on the other hand, live together without getting legally married. Common-law couples have some of the same rights and obligations as married couples, but there are significant differences in the legal rights of married spouses versus common-law spouses

What is the difference between separation and divorce?


Separation is the initial step in ending a relationship or marriage. It occurs when one spouse has a settled intention to end the relationship or marriage. A separation agreement is a document that outlines how spouses will live separately and address various issues such as property, support, and decision-making responsibility and parenting time for the children. Both parties must sign the agreement.

In most cases in Ontario, spouses need to be separated for a period of one year before they can apply for a divorce. During this separation period, many couples resolve the issues through the use of a separation agreement.


A divorce, on the other hand, is the legal termination of a marriage. It is a claim that will only apply to married people.  It can be either contested or uncontested and can be pursued by either spouse.


It is important to note that in Ontario, a divorce can only be Court Ordered, but this does not necessarily mean that parties must physically go to court. An uncontested divorce is relatively simple and does not require attending court.

Before proceeding with a divorce, it is advisable to consult with a family law lawyer who can provide guidance on your rights and obligations under the law. A family law lawyer can assist in negotiating an agreement with your spouse or represent you in court if the divorce becomes contested.

We are here to help

INB Family Law is here to provide the guidance, support, and expertise you need to protect your rights and achieve fair outcomes. Our team of experienced family lawyers can help you through every step of the process, whether through alternative dispute resolution methods or court representation. If you need legal assistance with your family law matter, do not hesitate to contact us at 905-215-1905 for a consultation.

How can we help?

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