Broken plate on a concrete floor.

Family Law Adjacent

How we can help after a divorce or separation

There are three main things we often work on after a couple parts ways.

1. Changing wills and powers of attorney

Aside from getting proper family law advice, one of your first steps after a break up is to change your will and powers of attorney. Or, if you don’t have either document, prepare them now.

The law has changed in Ontario, so effective January 1, 2022, your separated spouse will no longer be able to make a claim against your estate. BUT, the definition of “separated” means you have to have been living apart for three years, OR you have a valid separation agreement OR a valid court order or arbitration order. What this means is that if you die before any of these things has happened, your will or the division of your estate has not changed as a result of your relationship ending.

Break ups are messy. Sometimes there is back and forth so the date of separation is a question. If you are in the midst of this, do you want your estate to also be messy? If not, just get wills and powers of attorney done as soon as you can after the break up.

If you are legally divorced and haven’t gotten around to changing your will, there is some good news. Your will is read as if your former spouse died before you. So no, they would not be entitled to a share of your estate. BUT (again with the “but”), does your will plan make sense in that case? If not, you really should do new documents.

If you have done all the adult things like entering into an agreement or obtaining a court order, if your estate will have any support obligations after your death, you need to make sure that the will making lawyer is aware of those obligations. Your will plan needs to match these requirements, otherwise there will be more legal costs after your death.

2. Buying, selling or refinancing real estate

A break up means you go from at least one house to two households.

If you owned a home together, the ownership on that property needs to change. Is one member of the couple buying out the other? If so, you usually need to refinance and change the ownership on that home.

Are you both cashing out and selling the family home? Then you need at least one lawyer, or two different lawyers if you cannot agree on using the same lawyer.

After the sale, is one or both of you buying a new property? We can help with that too.

Sometimes, a combination of these transactions are all happening on the same day. Where possible, it can be beneficial for one lawyer or firm to handle multiple transactions, so the funds can be moved quickly to effect the various steps in the transactions.

If the couple owned income properties, the process is often more involved. Who is buying out who? Where is the money coming from? Who is moving where? We can help.

3. Business assets and business information

Whether you owned or operated a business together as a couple, or only one of you did, there are often things to be done with respect to your business when a break up happens.

Was your spouse a director, officer or shareholder of your corporation? They need to be removed from the corporation.

Was your spouse a signing authority on your business bank accounts (either for an incorporated business or a non-incorporated business)? You need to change that.

What about business registered addresses? Were you using the family home address to get your business mail? You need to change that also, and not just with Canada Post. If you are incorporated or have a registered business, you need to update your information with the province.

Are you recently separated and need to make some of the changes mentioned here? We can help you with decision making and preparing your legal documents. Call or text us at 613-933-7720 today to get started, or fill out an intake here.

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