When married spouses separate, inevitably it takes some time to unwind their financial affairs. Ideally they should work diligently and co-operatively to push the matter through to resolution as soon as possible; but in some cases one of the spouses may be delayed. It is important to know that in Ontario, there are deadlines imposed by law for certain types of family-related applications. A spouse who delays long enough may run out of time.
For example, section 7(3) of the Ontario Family Law Act imposes a deadline on bringing an application for equalization of net family property. Specifically, such applications must be brought before either of the following dates, whichever comes first:
- within two years that the marriage is terminated by divorce; or
- within six years that the spouses separate and there is no reasonable prospect that they will resume living together.
(If the other spouse has died, the surviving spouse must bring the application for equalization of net family property within six months of death).
If the deadline has passed, in some circumstances a court may exercise its power under section 2(8) of the Family Law Act to extend it, but only after considering all the following tests:
- whether there are apparent grounds for relief;
- whether the spouse’s delay was incurred in good faith; and
- whether the other spouse would suffer substantial prejudice because of the tardy spouse’s delay.
Needless to say, these tests can be difficult to meet; moreover the need for an exemption is wholly preventable if the parties simply resolve their financial affairs promptly. In short: it is important to get timely legal advice from an experienced lawyer soon after the decision to separate is made.
Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation in connection with separation and divorce. Contact us to set up a free consultation.