Parenting & Family

Separation after 30 years

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  • Mar 10th, 2019 5:15 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Feb 28, 2018
6 posts

Separation after 30 years

Hey RFD,

I will try to keep this short. My parents have been married for 30 years. My mom wants out of the marriage due to various factors including my father's alcoholism which had led to a lack of gainful employment, a lack of intimacy or any type of affection, extremely anti social behaviour on his end, isolation, etc. She has simply stated she loves and cares for him, but is no longer in love with him. Although he does love my mother very much, he has refused to change/seek help over many years and she has reached her limit.

They own a home worth approximately $700k with a $150k mortgage remaining.

My mother is the breadwinner of the home, earning approximately $60k/year (pre-tax). My father only works seasonally (his own choice) and earns approximately $20k. He collects EI in the winter. My mother has a workplace pension currently worth approximately $180k with 8-11 years left before retirement (dependent on when she chooses to retire. She is currently 54). My father has no pension, besides what will be provided by the government. Prior to their current situation, and up until 10 years ago, they were self-employed, together.

Besides this, my mom does not know their true financial situation. My father handles the money, which I know, is not ideal for someone who has a drinking problem, but this is how they've functioned thus far. My mother doesn't even know how to log-into her online banking profile. This is partly her own fault, as he doesn't forbid her from doing so. She is just very uninvolved in their day to day finances, and it has always been this way. This is now proving to be a problem as she wants out.

How can she go about this in the simplest/most affordable manner? Does she contact a divorce lawyer? are there different lawyers that specialize in separations vs. divorces? Does she need a lawyer for a separation? What are the steps she should follow?
29 replies
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Oct 19, 2008
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Forget the lawyer unless dad makes it necessary. The lawyers main interest is how he can make as much money as possible from this situation. Lawyers will get them fighting, pretty soon the homes equity will be his.
[OP]
Newbie
Feb 28, 2018
6 posts
Zamboni wrote:
Feb 20th, 2019 4:46 pm
Forget the lawyer unless dad makes it necessary. The lawyers main interest is how he can make as much money as possible from this situation. Lawyers will get them fighting, pretty soon the homes equity will be his.
How does she go about legally separating without a lawyer?
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AlwaysFlying13 wrote:
Feb 20th, 2019 5:19 pm
How does she go about legally separating without a lawyer?
Google it, possible to separate and then divorce without lawyers.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
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Provinces may be different, however here are some links for Ontario:
https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on. ... y/divorce/

Which includes documents like:

What You Should Know about Family Law in Ontario (available in 9 languages)
Covers many aspects of divorce and separation, including mediation, choosing a lawyer, going to court, your rights and obligations
Family Law Information Centres (FLICs)
An area in each family courthouse where you can receive free information about divorce, separation and related family law issues (child custody, access, support, property division and child protection) and referrals to community resources. Each FLIC has a variety of publications available addressing these issues, as well as guides to court procedures. Staff and Advice Lawyers are also available at designated hours
Getting Divorced (Community Legal Education Ontario)
A brochure that provides information about legally ending a marriage in Ontario.
Resource List
Extensive list of books and websites for adults and children covering separation and divorce, parenting, emotional and financial issues. Includes age appropriate reading suggestions and interactive websites.
Your Legal Rights (Community Legal Education Ontario)
A website with practical, easy to find legal information on a variety of topics.
Family Law Information Program (Legal Aid Ontario)
Legal and practical information on family law topics in an easy to follow format.
Helping Children Cope with Separation and Divorce (Canadian Paediatric Society)
Information on how to help your children at the time of separation.


Lastly here is a FAQ for Ontario:
https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on. ... ly/faq.php
Which answers common questions, such as getting a divorce without a lawyer.

I would speculate that in a case like this it is in your mother's interest to skip the lawyer and your father's interest to lawyer up (as I assume he'll be entitled to part of the pension, etc.).
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Nov 10, 2018
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AlwaysFlying13 wrote:
Feb 20th, 2019 2:53 pm
Hey RFD,

I will try to keep this short. My parents have been married for 30 years. My mom wants out of the marriage due to various factors including my father's alcoholism which had led to a lack of gainful employment, a lack of intimacy or any type of affection, extremely anti social behaviour on his end, isolation, etc. She has simply stated she loves and cares for him, but is no longer in love with him. Although he does love my mother very much, he has refused to change/seek help over many years and she has reached her limit.

They own a home worth approximately $700k with a $150k mortgage remaining.

My mother is the breadwinner of the home, earning approximately $60k/year (pre-tax). My father only works seasonally (his own choice) and earns approximately $20k. He collects EI in the winter. My mother has a workplace pension currently worth approximately $180k with 8-11 years left before retirement (dependent on when she chooses to retire. She is currently 54). My father has no pension, besides what will be provided by the government. Prior to their current situation, and up until 10 years ago, they were self-employed, together.

Besides this, my mom does not know their true financial situation. My father handles the money, which I know, is not ideal for someone who has a drinking problem, but this is how they've functioned thus far. My mother doesn't even know how to log-into her online banking profile. This is partly her own fault, as he doesn't forbid her from doing so. She is just very uninvolved in their day to day finances, and it has always been this way. This is now proving to be a problem as she wants out.

How can she go about this in the simplest/most affordable manner? Does she contact a divorce lawyer? are there different lawyers that specialize in separations vs. divorces? Does she need a lawyer for a separation? What are the steps she should follow?
I will subscribe to this thread and try to help however I can. I am very sorry to hear about your situation.

I cannot predict the outcome of how this situation pans out, but I will start by saying that the odds that your parents go through this without each retaining a lawyer and end up with an uncontested divorce is close to 0, and that is based on experience.

I have a few humble suggestions/thoughts to share:

1) Posting on RFD means you should be aware there are very few lawyers on here. I would suggest posting on here: https://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/

2) The situation with your mom and dad (alcoholism, intimacy concerns) really add no value when it comes to the legal outcome. It may add context for readers on here, but lawyers do not care, and thus if your folks end up retaining lawyers, I would suggest telling your parents to both not bring this up. It doesn't matter, and just adds to their legal bills.

3) The information you have provided in regards to the home is not sufficient for me to make any comments. When did they buy this home? Before they got married? Is this their matrimonial home as legally defined? What was the value of the home on Date of Marriage (DOM) and what is the value of their home on Date of Separation (DOS)? I presume the $700K is the value now, with $150K remaining on the mortgage. That said without knowing the DOM valuation and mortgage, and when this home was bought and owned by whom (latter not as important) it's hard to comment here.

4) Re: Income: It looks like your mom will be seeking to impute income on your dad's part. That said, given the long standing marriage and situation your dad is in - your mom can expect to pay spousal support for a long time, if not, indefinitely. Your dad would be wise to use the alcoholism part as a medical issue, requiring more support from your mom.

5) Think of separations and divorces separately. They are intertwined of course, but just for clarity sake, think of a divorce as an official dissolution of a marriage, and a separation as a split of assets and such. A separation agreement is naturally a legal document that comes out of divorcing, and is a legal document that is used by both parties (and the courts) to deal with equalization of assets and spousal support payments. You can get "legally" separated without getting a divorce, but you can't get divorced without being separated (quite literally, legally)

Your parents do not need to retain a lawyer and could go through an uncontested divorce and such, but it's highly unlikely given the large amount of assets here. I also presume you are >18 years of age given you are posting on here, but if you are not, then just be aware that child custody will be something that both parents end up fighting over. It's just the way it has always been, unfortunately. With the latter, the chances of a contested divorce go up much higher, and it requires the courts to do what they always do, which is to look out for your best interest versus what either parents want.

Good luck with everything. Feel free to reply to this thread and I'll comment when I can.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
[OP]
Newbie
Feb 28, 2018
6 posts
angryaudifanatic wrote:
Mar 2nd, 2019 9:24 am
I will subscribe to this thread and try to help however I can. I am very sorry to hear about your situation.

I cannot predict the outcome of how this situation pans out, but I will start by saying that the odds that your parents go through this without each retaining a lawyer and end up with an uncontested divorce is close to 0, and that is based on experience.

I have a few humble suggestions/thoughts to share:

1) Posting on RFD means you should be aware there are very few lawyers on here. I would suggest posting on here: https://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/

2) The situation with your mom and dad (alcoholism, intimacy concerns) really add no value when it comes to the legal outcome. It may add context for readers on here, but lawyers do not care, and thus if your folks end up retaining lawyers, I would suggest telling your parents to both not bring this up. It doesn't matter, and just adds to their legal bills.

3) The information you have provided in regards to the home is not sufficient for me to make any comments. When did they buy this home? Before they got married? Is this their matrimonial home as legally defined? What was the value of the home on Date of Marriage (DOM) and what is the value of their home on Date of Separation (DOS)? I presume the $700K is the value now, with $150K remaining on the mortgage. That said without knowing the DOM valuation and mortgage, and when this home was bought and owned by whom (latter not as important) it's hard to comment here.

4) Re: Income: It looks like your mom will be seeking to impute income on your dad's part. That said, given the long standing marriage and situation your dad is in - your mom can expect to pay spousal support for a long time, if not, indefinitely. Your dad would be wise to use the alcoholism part as a medical issue, requiring more support from your mom.

5) Think of separations and divorces separately. They are intertwined of course, but just for clarity sake, think of a divorce as an official dissolution of a marriage, and a separation as a split of assets and such. A separation agreement is naturally a legal document that comes out of divorcing, and is a legal document that is used by both parties (and the courts) to deal with equalization of assets and spousal support payments. You can get "legally" separated without getting a divorce, but you can't get divorced without being separated (quite literally, legally)

Your parents do not need to retain a lawyer and could go through an uncontested divorce and such, but it's highly unlikely given the large amount of assets here. I also presume you are >18 years of age given you are posting on here, but if you are not, then just be aware that child custody will be something that both parents end up fighting over. It's just the way it has always been, unfortunately. With the latter, the chances of a contested divorce go up much higher, and it requires the courts to do what they always do, which is to look out for your best interest versus what either parents want.

Good luck with everything. Feel free to reply to this thread and I'll comment when I can.
Thank you for your reply. I'm in my early 30s FYI, so no custody issues. My siblings and I are all in our own separate homes.

The current home they are in was purchased 11 years ago. They've moved 3x during their marriage. The value of the current home when purchased was roughly $350k. It was recently evaluated at close to $700k. At their DOM they moved in and lived with my grandmother for many years until purchasing a home, together.

My mom also has a pension currently worth $180k. My dad has no pension. I'm assuming he is entitled to half of that as well?

The issue they are running into is my dad does not want to leave the home they live in, although he would be unable to afford it without my mother's income. My mother would likely face financial hardship should she have to split her pension with him, as well as pay spousal support indefinitely.
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Nov 10, 2018
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AlwaysFlying13 wrote:
Mar 3rd, 2019 5:50 pm
Thank you for your reply. I'm in my early 30s FYI, so no custody issues. My siblings and I are all in our own separate homes.

The current home they are in was purchased 11 years ago. They've moved 3x during their marriage. The value of the current home when purchased was roughly $350k. It was recently evaluated at close to $700k. At their DOM they moved in and lived with my grandmother for many years until purchasing a home, together.

My mom also has a pension currently worth $180k. My dad has no pension. I'm assuming he is entitled to half of that as well?

The issue they are running into is my dad does not want to leave the home they live in, although he would be unable to afford it without my mother's income. My mother would likely face financial hardship should she have to split her pension with him, as well as pay spousal support indefinitely.
1) Re: Pension. Yes. The pension valuation at DOM and DOS will be calculated, and split evenly.
2) If they cannot come to consensus with who keeps and home and who doesn't, it will ultimately be sold. If he is entitled to say, $400,000 and can't afford to stay in it, then it doesn't really matter what he wants, as he will be unable to assume the home based on my interpretation of your statements that he doesn't have the income to support a possible mortgage.

While I am jaded after 3 decades of dealing with the law, the general saying is that a courts position is to ensure that one party doesn't suffer "more" than the other from a hardship perspective. I can see/side/appreciate your view about your mother's possible predicament, but because your dad doesn't have an income and will not have an income based on what you have stated - then he ultimately will be facing hardship too. The mandate of the court is to try and ensure things are split "evenly", although generally it's safe to say that no one is ever happy with the rulings the courts make in this regard.

At the very least, and I know this won't mean much given what you are going through, I am at least relieved to hear that all of you/your siblings are adults. At this point in my career, nothing really moves me anymore in any legal case other than children living with parents going through a divorce. The latter still very much affects me, even though I have never had children of my own.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
Deal Addict
Nov 13, 2013
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You have been provided lots of good advice. I am not a lawyer but I have seen a lot of colleagues, mostly female, who have had similar divorces and they all seem shocked that they get the same treatment a man would get if the primary bread earner. I think that is the case here. The subtext is he is a lazy drunk and that may be true but not sure that will lead to much imputed income.

Of course there will be financial hardship. They will need to run two households on $60k per year. That seems very difficult even with the reasonable equity they have in their house.
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Feb 7, 2005
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Zamboni wrote:
Feb 20th, 2019 4:46 pm
Forget the lawyer unless dad makes it necessary. The lawyers main interest is how he can make as much money as possible from this situation. Lawyers will get them fighting, pretty soon the homes equity will be his.
Very poor advice . You get a free meeting with a lawyer. Get real legal advice . Get a picture of the situation from a lawyer . There too many variables in this situation for simple advice .
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pfbmgd wrote:
Mar 5th, 2019 7:38 am
Very poor advice . You get a free meeting with a lawyer. Get real legal advice . Get a picture of the situation from a lawyer . There too many variables in this situation for simple advice .
I would caution against these so called free meetings. Usually in those free meetings, a lawyer does everything possible to convince you to retain them, and adds a bunch of non nonsensical comments to get you to hire legal services. At the very least, I would pay for an hour of a lawyer's time. It doesn't mean that by paying that one would get only the most accurate legal advice, but nothing in life is free, really.
fogetmylogin wrote:
Mar 5th, 2019 7:00 am
You have been provided lots of good advice. I am not a lawyer but I have seen a lot of colleagues, mostly female, who have had similar divorces and they all seem shocked that they get the same treatment a man would get if the primary bread earner.
As it very well should be.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
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pfbmgd wrote:
Mar 5th, 2019 7:38 am
Very poor advice . You get a free meeting with a lawyer. Get real legal advice . Get a picture of the situation from a lawyer . There too many variables in this situation for simple advice .
The free hour is a sales pitch for lawyers services. A picture of the situation?....lawyer paints it as you're getting screwed, need to hire him. Seen this many times, only the lawyer comes out ahead once a lawyer is involved.
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May 12, 2009
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The first thing you mom needs to do is get down to the back, get access to her financial records and get a true picture of what she and your father have. Next she needs to open her own bank account - in her name only.
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pimom wrote:
Mar 5th, 2019 9:34 am
The first thing you mom needs to do is get down to the back, get access to her financial records and get a true picture of what she and your father have. Next she needs to open her own bank account - in her name only.


Bolding is mine. This is wrong. It doesn't matter if she has her own account or not. She can funnel all of the money into her account that she can lay her fingers on, but again, it doesn't matter. What does matter is the official date of separation. If she moves $400K to a bank account in just her name today, and the date of separation is next Friday, then, well, again, it's meaningless. The main two dates that matter are DOM and DOS. Whose account has what and is what name is all irrelevant after getting married*

* = for all intents and purposes.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
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May 12, 2009
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The husband can't dilute assets he doesn't have access to. Right now, for all she knows every penny in their joint accounts is being used for purposes not in her interest. That doesn't mean the husband does not have a right to those assets, it means they will be preserved in the event of equalization.

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