In Canada, separation is official when spouses choose to stop living together. In this situation, a couple may choose to live separately or to live separate and apart under the same roof. If a couple chooses to live apart under the same roof, the courts generally require evidence that the parties are living independently of each other, while sharing a common residence.
Historic views of marriage revolved around cohabiting under one roof and it wasn’t until the 1960s that this set up challenged by non-martial cohabitation trends. But modern families are ever-evolving and their structures are malleable. Family structures demand flexibility, particularly after divorce and separation, which is why the phenomenon of living together, apart (LTA) is a trend on the rise in Canada.
When a family goes through a divorce or separation, intricate questions arise about the upbringing and well-being of the children, from where a he or she lives (physical custody), to who will make the decisions pertaining to the welfare of the child (legal custody), and how each parent will spend time with the children (access).
According to the Vanier Institute of the Family, in Canada, roughly 1.2 million children live with divorced or separated parents. Nearly 70% of these children spend most of their time living with their mothers, and 1 in 6 live primarily with their fathers. Fewer than 1 in 10 children divide their time equally. Rebuilding a life after separation or divorce is a traumatic event with or without children, although having children requires special care and consideration.
Some separating couples have found creative living arrangements by living together under the same roof and sharing space. Much like the idea of living as roommates, one couple may live upstairs, while another down stairs (both potentially with new spouses), and children are able to freely between each parent. Seeking a support system for you and your children during this transition may be helpful.
Although this might not be a viable option in all separation and or divorce cases, LTA allows children to distribute time equally between parents. It offers a way for children to remain in close proximity to each parent, while also providing a sense of financial security as neither parent is left with the burden of having to starting over from scratch.
Despite parents’ choice of whether they want to remain under the same roof for financial reasons or for their children, it is recommended that spouses speak with a lawyer that understands the intricacies of Living Apart, Together (LAT) and Living Together, Apart (LTA) to ensure that rights and obligations of each parent, in each scenario, are fulfilled.
Family law lawyers at Epstein & Associates in Newmarket, Ontario, understand that there is no one family model, and what works for one family might not work for another. Contact Epstein & Associates today so we can address your unique family situation.