International Day of Women

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Women and Divorce

Let’s look at the impact women had on divorce and support. Canada’s first Divorce Reform Act came out in 1968. It recognized marriage breakdown, yet divorce was still contingent upon proof of conditions such as adultery, cruelty and desertion.

In 1986, the Act changed to allow for a “no-fault” divorce. Essentially all that had to be proven was that the couple had been separated for at least one year. If someone wanted a divorce in under one year, they still had to demonstrate a condition requiring it. That in effect has had people wait the one-year period to affect their divorce.

Divorce, by the way, implies a marriage. The rules with respect to division of property, assets and spousal support, differ on the basis of marriage or cohabitation. Rules are in place for the dissolution of a marriage and the rights and responsibilities of the partners therein… However, this still differs from those who have been in a stable cohabiting relationship, yet not formally married.

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Women’s Movement

Really, it was thanks to the woman’s movement of the 60’s and coming into the 70’s that led to there being an act and then eventually reforms in the 80’s.

As society has changed and more women are in the workplace, we have also seen a shift and rise of greater limits on spousal support for women. This came with a greater expectation that they eventually become financially self-sufficient, albeit with exceptions.

Also the result of changing gender expectations and reform to the formula for determining child support, we have also seen a shift to changes in the parenting time between parents. Whereas the care of children generally fell to women, men are far more apt to have parenting time near to or equal to that of women.

Some argue that those changes are more to avoid child support obligations. Others point to better outcomes for children the result of father involvement.

Still at issue are matters of abuse and circumstances where a parent deliberately seeks to undermine the parenting time of the other parent in favor of oneself. This has been a growing issue since about the mid 90’s. Experts lining up on all sides seeking to bring clarity to the matters of child contact issues. More recently, matters of abuse are clearly detailed. Now they must be taken into account when considering parenting time and responsibilities.

So, here we are in the 2020’s.

There is still much to resolve with regard to women’s issues and divorce.

For the most up to date understanding of one’s rights and responsibilities, it is wise to consult with a family law lawyer. Consultation doesn’t mean court. A consultation can advise of a way forward based on the facts and nuances of your situation. As always, the reasonable lawyer will seek to reach agreements as peacefully as possible.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 600 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.

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