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Canadian Divorce Glossary
If you're considering ending your marriage, learning to speak the "language" of divorce in Canada is an important first step. Below you will find a brief glossary of terms related to the separation process. These definitions are overviews, provided to help you begin to understand what is involved in ending a marriage.
Enforcement - Just because you’ve got a divorce order doesn’t mean that your spouse will obey it. Enforcement is when you take action to force your spouse to comply with the court order – for instance, you may garnish your spouse’s wages or seize property of theirs. Normally enforcement is done through the courts. However, in cases of child support and spousal support, each province has a government agency that normally handles this. In Ontario this agency is known as the Family Responsibility Office.
Equalization Payment - The law states that upon divorcing, married spouses should share equally in the increase in value of assets (including, but by no means limited to, cars, stocks, pensions, electronic equipment, furniture, collectibles, and art) during their marriage. The law requires the spouse with greater net family property to make a payment to the spouse with the lower net family property in an amount that equalizes the increase. This payment is known as the "equalization payment."
Estate Planning - Estate planning is a way to arrange for an orderly distribution of your assets after death so that your assets go to the people you choose, and in a way that minimizes income taxes and probate fees. When you separate, your estate planning documents remain valid, so your spouse could benefit from your estate. You should have new estate planning documents prepared.
Examinations for Discovery - An "examination for discovery" in divorce is the questioning of a person regarding a matter at issue in the divorce action. Examinations for discovery are held prior to the trial and outside the court. The parties to the divorce and their lawyers, as well as a court reporter, who will create a transcript of the examination that may be used at trial or on a motion, are the only people who are present at an examination for discovery. That means that no judge or other court officer is present. An examination for discovery is a way of gathering information used to settle your divorce, or to prepare for your trial.
Exclusive Possession - When a married couple separates, both parties have an equal right to stay in the matrimonial home. That means that you can’t force your spouse out of the house unless there are serious circumstances, such as domestic violence. “Exclusive possession” means that the court has given you the right to stay in the house, and your spouse must move out of the house.
Expensive - The costs associated with ending a marriage -- from legal fees to the cost of moving and setting up a new household -- are, for many people, a huge hurdle to overcome in obtaining a divorce. Your lawyer will be able to give you an overview of legal fees based on your unique situation. But it's important to remember that predicting the expenses in a divorce is not easy because a variety of factors outside your control. For example, the personality of your spouse and philosophy of his or her attorney can affect the ultimate path that your divorce takes.