In Saskatchewan, for family law purposes you do not need to sign anything or take any specific court steps to be legally separated from your spouse. Rather, you decide when you are separated.
There are a variety of ways that a legal separation can occur. Often, one spouse has decided to end the relationship and has conveyed that decision to the other spouse either verbally or in writing. Both spouses do not need to agree to the separation; if one spouse has decided to separate that is all that is required.
In most cases, legally married spouses need to wait one year following their legal separation to file for a divorce. For common law couples, after two years of legal separation they are no longer considered common law spouses.
The following are some common myths regarding legal separation in Saskatchewan:
Myth #1: In order to be legally separated you must also physically separate. This not true. Often it is not financially feasible for spouses to immediately physically separate. Or, if there are children involved, spouses may decide to both remain in the family home while they work out a parenting plan. It is becoming more common that separated spouses continue to live together post-separation.
Myth #2: The date of separation does not matter. In Saskatchewan, the date of separation has importance in that it starts the one-year period before either spouse can file for divorce. However, many believe it also sets the date to divide property. This is not true. The date of separation does not sever the ties between the spouses for the purposes of financial commitments or property matters.
Myth #3: You need a separation agreement or court document before you are legally separated. This is not true. There is no specific separation document to obtain to confirm separation. Often spouses will work out a separation agreement after the date of separation, but this is not a prerequisite to separate.
Myth #4: Once you separate you must divorce. This is not true. Many people, for various reasons, may choose to separate but remain legally married. When you remain legal spouses, property or financial rights may still exist so it is important to consider these issues should you choose to separate but not divorce.
Myth #5: Separation will impact my estate planning. This is not necessarily true. For legally married spouses, once they are divorced, the Saskatchewan legislation will revoke gifts made to a former spouse, unless a contrary intention appears in the Will. However, this section of the legislation only applies upon a divorce, not a legal separation. A separation will also not immediately revoke any beneficiary designations that may be in place.
Kimberly D. Visram
STEVENSON HOOD THORNTON BEAUBIER LLP
500 – 123 2nd Avenue South, Saskatoon, SK S7K 7E6
The information in this article is not legal advice. We encourage you to consult with your legal advisor for advice specific to you.