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Canadian Divorce Glossary
Marriage - The essence of marriage is that it is a bond between two people made up of a network of rights and obligations. In the eyes of the law, marriage is a legal and binding contract between two people. Even in this day of equality, there are significant differences in how the law treats unmarried and married couples when their relationship ends. The most significant is the division of property, which is automatic at the end of a marriage, but not automatic at the end of an unmarried relationship.
Marriage Breakdown - Marriage breakdown is the only ground for divorce in Canada. Under the Divorce Act, there are only three ways in which a marriage can breakdown: one year of separation, adultery, or serious physical or mental cruelty.
Marriage Contract - A marriage contract (also known as a “prenup” or “prenuptial agreement”) is a contract entered into by two people who are about to marry or are already married. The marriage contract sets out what happens in financial terms if the couple separates or one spouse passes away. Although some people find the concept of a marriage contract repulsive, the reality is that everyone has a marriage contract: the terms of the marriage contract are set out by the government in the Divorce Act.
Marriage Counseling - For some couples, working with a marriage counselor, a trained professional with experience in the problems of wedlock, will help them resolve the issues of their relationship and allow their marriage to thrive again. Given how difficult a separation or divorce is, it is often worth trying marriage counseling.
Matrimonial Home - The matrimonial home receives special treatment under Ontario family law. Both spouses have an equal right to possession of the matrimonial home – which means both spouses have a right to stay in the home. As well, in dividing property, you do not get any credit if you brought the matrimonial home into the marriage, whereas you do if you brought other property into the marriage.
Mediation - In less contentious divorces where the parties do not need to turn to the courts to resolve their issues, they may select "mediation." In this process, a professionally trained mediator, who is a neutral third party skilled at getting people to reach an agreement, helps you and your spouse arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to the issues arising from your separation.
Medical Insurance - Normally, as part of a divorce settlement, you will be required to continue designating your children as beneficiaries of any extended health or dental insurance you may have through employment.
Minutes of Settlement - When a court action is settled out of court, the settlement is written up in what is known as “minutes of settlement.” This document details the agreement reached between you and your spouse.
Motion - It can take a year or more for a divorce case to be completed. That can be too long to wait for certain things – such as receiving child support or spousal support, or deciding on a parenting schedule. In such cases, you need to file a motion with the court to obtain temporary (interim) decisions about the matters in your case. A motion can also be filed if you need direction from the court about procedural matters in your case.