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Separation question

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Anonymous Asked:

My wife and I just decided to separate two weeks ago. We don't have the financial means to be living separately. So it's a little tough these days. We have a 6 year old daughter.
I have two questions.
1.) Can she take our daughter and leave (decide to go live with a friend for example) ?
2.) If she leaves and racks up any debt am I financially responsible for any of it ?

Thank you.

Expert Comment:

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Andrew J. Kania, LL.B., LL.M.
7 years ago

1.) Can she take our daughter and leave (decide to go live with a friend for example) ?
Answer: No, she cannot, without your agreement or a Court Order. Both parents have equal legal rights to children unless an agreement or Court Order says differently. However, if she moves out with your daughter anyways, without your agreement or Court Order, you MUST act immediately by commencing Court to obtain an Order to have your daughter returned to her ordinary residence (including police enforcement), failing which your custody/access rights will likely be prejudiced.

2.) If she leaves and racks up any debt am I financially responsible for any of it ?
Answer: Legally married spouses are entitled to an equalization of net family property under the Family Law Act. This means that we look at both of your assets (like a home) and debts (to answer your specific question) on marriage date and separation date. Legal “deductions” and “exclusions” are factored in, and the remainder of the property is equalized. Any debts are supposed to be frozen as of the date of separation (which may be earlier than the date that she moves out). The theory is that from the date of separation parties are supposed to be independent regarding debts that they do not jointly acquire together. Of course, I would need exact examples of the debts and amounts that you are concerned about, before providing a specific analysis that would apply to your exact situation.

(The information provided above is general, not legal advice, as circumstances vary from case to case. Thus, if you wish legal advice that you can rely upon for your specific case, please contact Andrew Kania for a free consultation).

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