Shaquille O'Neal Separated from his Wife Shaunie

The Shaq attack is back...in separation proceedings, but this time he's not the one attacking. In 2007 Shaq filed for divorce from his wife because he suspected her of hiding assets. The parties reconciled shortly thereafter. This time Shaunie commenced the separation. She filed for legal separation in Los Angeles on November 9, 2009, after leaving Florida, where the parties resided, with their four children.

Despite rumours of an affair between Shaq and Laura Govan, why Shaunie filed for separation is uncertain. Her motives for filing for separation in California instead of Florida are clearer. As TMZ reports, spouse's generally receive more support when they apply for divorce in California.

Would fleeing the jurisdiction to get larger spousal support payments work for Shaunie if she fled to Ontario instead of L.A? How would Ontario courts deal with the fact that this couple separated once in the past?

Fleeing to Ontario

In Ontario, you can only issue an application for divorce if you have been primarily resident in Ontario for one year. This means that if Shaunie fled to Ontario instead of Los Angeles, she would not be able to apply for divorce until one year later.

Of course, Shaunie need not apply for divorce right away. In Ontario, parties can apply for an Equalization Payment without applying for Divorce. But, this would not help Shaunie if she fled to Ontario because property rights are determined by the law of the place where both spouses had their last common habitual residence, which would be Florida, not Ontario.

If Shaunie fled to Ontario with her children, Shaq would likely be able to have the children returned to him because taking children to another country away from a parent is considered child abduction under the Hague Convention. So, if Shaunie took the children to Ontario instead of Los Angeles, Shaq could apply to have his children returned to the United States because both Canada and the United States are signatories of the Hague.

Past Reconciliation

Ontario family lawyers are required to discuss the possibility of reconciliation with their clients in appropriate circumstances (e.g. where abuse is not an issue). Perhaps the 2007 reconciliation would encourage a family law lawyer believe that Shaq and Shaunie are likely to reconcile again. After all, this is the parties' second attempt at separation and the third time's the charm.

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