Frequently Asked Questions
1) Why should we use Help for Divorce?
Help for Divorce is a premium online service provider assisting separating couples in drafting Separation Agreements.
Help for Divorce has been in the divorce business since 2008 and helped hundreds of couples draft thorough, professional Agreements.
We work entirely online by email and video conference. There are no office visits, you don’t need to take time off work, worry about child-care or extensive travel.
You are in control of the outcome. Help for Divorce relies entirely on the information YOU provide to US. You simply complete the questionnaire and financial data report and send it to us to draft your Agreement. We deliver the finished product within 48 business hours of receiving your information.
What you don’t know could hurt both you and your children in the future. Let us guide you through the process to draft a professional Agreement that will protect your best interests.
2) Who will benefit from these services?
Our services are not for everyone but if you are amicable and can discuss the terms of your separation together, this might just be the solution for you. Our clients include separating couples (married or common-law) who:
- agree on how to divide their assets & liabilities;
- are in agreement to paying/receiving family support i.e. child and/or spousal support;
- who are able to co-parent their children effectively;
- who wish to outline the terms of their separation in a professionally drafted Agreement;
- who require a Separation Agreement to obtain financing;
- who wish to apply for a divorce but need an Agreement outlining the terms of their separation.
3) What is included in Help for Divorce services?
We draft comprehensive Separation Agreements outlining the terms of your separation. The package you select may include some or all of the following:
- Parenting Plans
- Child Support and/or Spousal Support Calculations
- Detailed Financial Reports
- Divorce Applications
4) What is not included in Help for Divorce services?
Our services are not for everyone and may not be appropriate for some clients. The following are services that are NOT provided by Help for Divorce:
- Legal or Financial Advice
- Business and tax valuations
- Investigative Services for hidden assets, hidden income or self-employment income
5) Can any separating couple use your service?
There may be some couples who we would not consider not appropriate for our services. Factors we may consider:
- Volume or complexity of the facts or documents
- Complicated property distribution
- Communication difficulties between you and your spouse
- Communication difficulties between you and Help for Divorce
- Requesting something be included/excluded in your Agreement that violates the Divorce Act/Family Law Act etc.
- An unwillingness to provide full financial disclosure
If we feel that we cannot continue to provide assistance for any reason, we will inform you and your Contract will be terminated. You also have the right to terminate the contract any time without reason.
6) I can download a Separation Agreement template online for only $49. Why should we use the services of Help for Divorce?
Not all Separation Agreements are the same and not all are specific to Ontario or even Canada for that matter.
The templates you find online such as Lawdepot, Findlaw, Amazon or Staples are extremely basic templates and do not take every situation into account. A Comprehensive Agreement drafted by Help for Divorce is approximately 15 pages PLUS a 12-page Parenting Plan, PLUS a 6-page financial report.
As they say, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. The benefit of using Help for Divorce is that you will have an Ontario focused Agreement that includes ALL terms of your separation, drafted by a professional.
7) I see ads for “Get a Divorce Online”, What does that mean?
These services are specifically for applying for a Divorce. They do not include the drafting of a Separation Agreement which is an important step in the process. The information that is included in your Separation Agreement can and most times will included in your Divorce application.
8) What is the difference between a separation and a divorce?
A SEPARATION, under the Ontario Family Law Act, is when a couple begins to live separate and apart and there is no reasonable prospect that they will resume cohabitation. However, couples may remain living in the same home for financial or other reasons, and still be considered separated.
A DIVORCE is a recognition from the Government that you are no longer married and allows ex-spouses to remarry.
Typically, you need to wait for one year from the date of your separation to apply for a divorce.
If you’re married, you don’t get a divorce by signing a Separation Agreement. To legally divorce and end your marriage, you must apply for a divorce order from the court.
9) What is a Separation Agreement?
A Separation Agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse or common-law partner. A Separation Agreement outlines the terms of the separation and can explain each person’s rights and obligations after they separate, and addresses such issues such as:
- How you will divide your property, including assets and liabilities;
- Who your children will live with;
- How you will parent your children after you separate;
- Who pays child support and how much child support should be paid;
- Who pays spousal support and how much spousal support should be paid;
- Will medical and dental benefits be covered for the children? Spouse?;
- How much life insurance will be required to secure support obligations in the case of an untimely death?
- What happens if one of you doesn’t follow your Agreement. For example: your Agreement could indicate that you and your partner would have to first try mediation to work out your issues prior to going to court.
NOTE: A Separation Agreement does NOT mean you are divorced
10) Why is it important to make a written Agreement?
A Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract with your spouse which will detail the terms of your separation. It is important that the Agreement is very detailed and specific to your personal situation. This contract will assist you and your ex-spouse in settling disagreements should as they arise in the future.
- It lets others involved in your children’s care, such as their school, daycare, and doctor, know what has been agreed on.
- It’s easier to prove what you and your partner agreed on if you have a written rather than a verbal agreement.
- If there is a problem getting child support or spousal support, you can file your Agreement with the court and apply to the Family Responsibility Office to help collect support.
- Monthly spousal support cannot be tax deductible without a Separation Agreement or court order.
11) When should you make a Separation Agreement?
You can make a Separation Agreement at any time after you separate, however there are time limits for settling certain issues. For example, you have 6 years from the date of separation but only 2 years from the date of your divorce to make a claim for dividing property.
You don’t have to wait until you and your partner agree on everything before making a Separation Agreement. You can make an agreement on the things you agree on, while working on other issues.
You can also change a Separation Agreement at any time by making a new one, if both you and your partner agree to the changes.
12) Can we make our own arrangements, and will it still be enforceable?
Yes, you can make your own Agreement, however, your Agreement must follow certain rules to make it enforceable by a court of law. If your Agreement is not made correctly, i.e. following the rules of the Family Law Act and/or Divorce Act, the court may not uphold the terms you have agreed upon.
13) How do I make an Agreement with my partner that the court will enforce?
By using the services of Help for Divorce, you will be getting a thorough, professional Agreement that follows the terms of the Family Law Act and/or the Divorce Act.
Your Agreement must:
- Include full financial disclosure
- Spouses must provide details about all assets and liabilities to the other spouse
- The Agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties in the presence of a witness
- The Agreement must be entered into voluntarily and not under duress
- The Agreement must be fair and equitable
- Each party must understand the Agreement.
NOTE: It is highly recommended that both of the parties receive Independent Legal Advice prior to signing any documents.
Although a Separation Agreement becomes legally binding once it is signed, some terms of the Agreement may eventually be overturned, particularly where the rights of children are involved.
14) Do I need a lawyer to make a Separation Agreement?
You do not need a lawyer to make a Separation Agreement, however, it is recommended that each of you obtain your own legal advice before signing one.
Your lawyer will help you understand:
- What you are agreeing to
- Your rights and obligations toward your children and your partner
- The rules your Agreement must follow
By obtaining Independent Legal Advice, your agreement is less likely to be challenged in court at a later date.
If you decide not to get legal advice, you may not be able to argue later that you did not understand your legal rights when you signed the Agreement.
15) How many copies of the Separation Agreement do we require?
You will need two (2) copies of your Separation Agreement. One for your spouse and one for yourself. If you will be filing your Agreement with the court, you will need a third copy for the court. Your Agreement must have original signatures so make sure you print all copies before signing them.
16) How long does your process take?
The length of the process differs for each couple, however, on average, the process takes about one (1) week to complete. Once you have provided the necessary documentation that we require to populate your Agreement, our turn-around time is approximately 48 business hours.
17) I am confused by some of the custody terms I hear. Can you help clarify these terms?
When decisions are made on issues pertaining to your children regarding religion, education, non-urgent medical issues and special or extraordinary activities:
- Joint Custody – Decisions are made together;
- Sole Custody – Decisions are made by one parent.
The terms that refer to the residency of the children are:
- Shared Custody – Children live with both parents at least 40 percent of the time;
- Primary custody – Children live with one parent more than 60 percent of the time;
- Split Custody – One (or more) child lives primarily with one parent; one (or more) lives primarily with the other parent.
These terms can be used in combination, for example: “joint, shared custody”.
18) What is child support?
Parents have a legal responsibility to support their children financially. The federal government created the Child Support Guidelines to help parents determine what a fair amount of child support should be. The calculation takes into consideration the residential arrangements of the children, the number of children and the annual income of the parents. Child support is the right of every child and cannot be waived by the recipient parent.
19) What is spousal support?
Spousal Support, sometimes referred to as Spousal Maintenance or Alimony, is financial support that is paid from one spouse to the other when the parties separate or divorce.
20) Will I have to pay Spousal Support?
There are several factors to consider when determining spousal support such as:
- the age of the recipient at date of separation;
- the number of years the parties have been married;
- the role of each spouse during the marriage;
- if there is to be child support payments paid/received;
- educational background of the recipient; and
- the employ-ability of the recipient.
Since Spousal Support is not guaranteed, the parties are encouraged to create a budget to determine their own specific financial needs to help prepare for this discussion.
21) How will we go about dividing our property?
When a marriage ends, the equal contribution of each person to the marriage is recognized. The law provides that the value of any kind of property that was acquired by a spouse during the marriage and still exists at separation must be divided equally between the spouses. Also, any increase in the value of property owned by a spouse at the date of marriage must be shared. The payment that may be owed to one of the spouses in order to effect this sharing is called an equalization payment, or an equalization of net family property.
There are some possible exceptions to these rules, which is called excluded property, and may include gifts or inheritances received during the marriage from someone other than a spouse, provided that the gifts or inheritances were not used towards a matrimonial home
Still Have Questions?
We’re here to help. Call us today.
Still Have Questions?
We’re here to help. Call us today.
The information included in the Separation Agreement, or other applicable documents, is purely a guide and cannot substitute for a lawyer’s skill, knowledge, and experience. These documents are simply reflective of the information received from you and are an administrative service only. Help for Divorce® does not warrant and is not liable or responsible for ensuring the validity and/or enforceability of any Agreement or clause in an Agreement and remains your full and sole responsibility.
Full financial disclosure is a crucial element in the preparation of any Separation Agreement, as such failure to disclose full financial information may be grounds for a Court to set aside the Separation Agreement. It is also critical that you understand your rights and obligations under existing law. In many circumstances, the Agreement will be addressing complex assets and issues, such as corporations, trusts, pensions, tax implications etc. In these cases, it is imperative that the actual relevant documentation be reviewed and that the expertise of an accountant or specialist in the subject area be consulted to ensure that the Agreement properly addresses these complex assets and issues.
It is strongly recommended that you retain Independent Legal Advice before signing any documentation arising out of the end of your marriage or common law relationship.