Good news! Same-sex couples in Canada have the same rights as heterosexual couples to marry or divorce, divide property, divide pensions, and claim or pay spousal support as heterosexual couples. The unique nuances posed by LGBTQ couples and families can be addressed creatively through the Collaborative process.
Collaborative Practice is a gentler, kinder approach that assists members of the LGBTQ community in resolving conflict and dissolving relationships. Through Collaborative Practice, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people can formalize an agreement where they can focus resolve their differences in a mutually respectful process, with the assistance of a Family Coach and Financial Planner as well as their Collaborative lawyers.
Same-sex couples who have legally married (not including those couples who are common-law) are automatically included as a spouse under Parts I and II of the Ontario Family Law Act. This means that claims for property equalization and possessory rights to matrimonial homes are available to same-sex couples who have been married.
In addition, married same-sex spouses have full access to pensions belonging to their spouse and to property division upon the death of their spouse.
For common-law same sex couples, the right to claim spousal support has been law since 1999. Same-sex couples also have the right to apply for Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits (if the couple has lived together for at least one year prior to the death of their common-law spouse) and have entitlements to be covered under each other’s car insurance.
Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people can work with their Collaborative team to create binding cohabitation or separation agreements. The Collaborative team of professionals may include professionals who are either members of the LGBTQ community or experienced in serving the LGBTQ community. The Collaborative Practice approach encourages creative problem-solving in a supportive and respectful environment.