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Divorce Law

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Divorce is a growing epidemic in Canada and the United States. It affects both parties involved, being the spouses, and also has a profound affect on children of the marriage. Recently our government has been revising the old divorce act. It was apparent that it was time to revise the act because it did not properly protect the children from being caught in the middle of things.

Divorce is defined as follows: to dissolve legally a marriage between; separate (one of a married couple) from the other by divorce . The Canadian constitution allows only the federal government to set divorce law. The government of Canada has a divorce act, and because it is a federal law, it applies fully and equally in all parts of Canada and to all Canadian citizens.

Divorces begin with an application to the court asking it to declare that there has been a breakdown of the marriage. This application must include paragraphs which refer to where and when the marriage took place, who the children were, who should have custody and why, if there is to be support for one of the spouses paid for by the other, and what is to become of the family property. Certified copies of the marriage certificate and any birth certificates are attached. The claim for support is known as "Corollary relief" and may be for the spouses and/or the children (claims for custody also fall under corollary relief claims). When corollary relief is requested, a financial statement which sets out your families monthly expenses in detail is required.

The divorce act requires the court to verify weather there seems to be any chance of reconciliation between the parties. The court may even ask for a marriage councilor to attempt a reconciliation.

The divorce act demands the sole grounds for divorce as breakdown of marriage, and provides for three basic ways of proving it:

 You and your spouse have been separated for one year.

 Your spouse has committed adultery.

 Your spouse has treated you with intolerable mental or physical cruelty.

The most common grounds for divorce is certainly a one year separation for it is the easiest to prove. There is no such thing as a "legal separation" however while living apart you should be protected by a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a domestic agreement between a separated couple outlining the distribution of the property and other obligations to each other .

My question here is, why in the proceedings is there nothing mentioned about the well being of the children that are innocently caught in the middle of their two parents at war with each other.

Because it is felt that not enough emphasis is made on the interests of our voiceless children throughout the process of divorce and follow in a divorce the government has proposed a number of recommendations to hopefully improve the divorce act.

It's recommendations include:

 Replacing the words custody and access to "shared parenting".

 Improving the act to state that divorced parents are entitled to a close and continuing relationship.

 Giving children a chance to be heard when custody decisions are being made.

 A review of the federal Child Support Guidelines to reflect social developments such as greater equality between sexes.

 Changes to provincial and territorial family laws so a child's relationships with grandparents and other relatives aren't disrupted without good cause.

The report was named "For the Sake of the Children". It also recommended both parents receive their children's school, medical and other records, and that parents wanting to move far away from the child give the other parent ninety days notice. For the Sake of Children makes 48 recommendations that suggest not only the legal changes but also a cultural shift in how parents must share the impact of divorce on children.

The changes to the divorce act are currently being drafted by a parliamentary committee in Ottawa. As you can see most of the changes are to ensure that both parents are involved as closely as possible in the lives of children, as opposed to the winner/loser approach and the child as an afterthought. In my opinion the children are affected the most in the case of a divorce and me must take special care in assuring that the lives of the children and their relationships with parents and relatives go as undisturbed as possible.

If implemented, the proposals would represent one of the largest changes to the thirty-year-old law since Canada adopted the no-fault divorce in 1985. Potentially, it would affect the lives of millions of Canadians.

Surveys show that in 1994 and 1995 alone, more than 4700



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