“My spouse wants a divorce. I don’t. Can a lawyer help me fight it?”
If you’re served with an application for divorce, you may contest it. But you must have grounds. Grounds could be that the relief requested in the application, such as support and division of the net family property, isn’t agreeable to you.
Child support will be in accordance with the federal child support guidelines if both parents get nearly all of their income each year from a regular salary or wage, and one parent has access to the children less than 40% of the time. The amount of child support may be different if there are special or extraordinary expenses (such as childcare, health expenses over $100 a year, education or extra-curricular expenses), or the court finds that the amounts determined by using the guidelines cause undue hardship, or each parent has a child in his or her custody, or the person paying support earns over $150,000 a year.
The division of the net family property is governed by the rules set out in the Family Law Act. Each spouse is required to calculate the value of all property owned at the date of separation, and the spouse with the lesser amount is entitled to half the difference between them. Personal injury awards, proceeds of life insurance policies, and inheritances or gifts from third parties will be excluded, as will property that was owned on the date of the marriage. However, any increase in the value of the property owned on the date of marriage is shareable. The full value of the matrimonial home or homes is always included in the value of property owned at the date of separation; its value is not deductible, even if it was owned by one of the spouses before the marriage, and even if it was acquired by gift or inheritance after the marriage. In certain limited circumstances, the court has discretion to award one spouse more or less than half the difference as calculated above.
It is also possible to claim spousal support. The amounts awarded vary widely. You may also contest the grounds for the divorce itself. Grounds for a divorce include separation for one year or more, cruelty, or adultery. Perhaps you disagree with the date of the separation, or you’ve been wrongly accused of adultery.
The bottom line is that if your spouse really wants the divorce, he or she will get it. The most you can do is delay it — and is that really in your family’s best interests?
Debbie Sweetman’s Whitby practice includes real estate law, business law, wills and estates, and uncontested family law matters.