It was reported this week that Tony Danza filed for divorce from his second wife, Tracy Robinson, after 24 years of marriage and over four years of separation. The couple, who originally separated in 2006, have two daughters, Katherine who is 23 years old and Emily who is 18. In the Divorce Petition filed with the Court, Tony cited the popular "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the couple's separation.
How would their Separation be dealt with if the Couple lived in Canada?
In Canada, when a couple decide that they want to obtain a Divorce, they may do so by commencing an Application in the Court, which effectively begins a court action wherein the couple utilizes the Court system to assist them in coming to a settlement of all issues in their matter in order to ultimately obtain a Divorce order. If a couple has settled the issues of their matter outside of the Court system by way of negotiations, mediations, Collaborative Family law, arbitration, or some combination of therein, they will generally enter into a Separation Agreement which reduces to writing the agreement which they have come to in finalizing their separation. Once parties have finalized all outstanding issues in their matter, they may then commence an Application for Divorce with the Court.
In this case, as Tony and Tracy have been separated for over four years, and as there are no reports to suggest any outstanding claims regarding spousal support, child support, or equalization of the net family property, it is relatively safe to assume that the former couple have come to a resolution of their matter and all associated issues. As this is the case, it is likely that the "divorce papers" which Tony filed would be akin to what would be known in Canada as an Application for Divorce. This Application can be filed by either individual naming the other party as the Respondent, or it may be filed jointly. It appears as though Tony has filed this and has named Tracy as the Respondent in the matter.
Once this has been filed with the Court, the Respondent, or in this case, Tracy, would have 30 days within which to file an Answer to the Application for Divorce. If the other spouse is not opposing the Divorce, they do not necessarily have to file an Answer. If no Answer is filed, the Applicant will have to file, along with a copy of the original Marriage Certificate, an Affidavit to confirm that all of the information in the Application is correct, and that arrangements have been made for the support of any children of the marriage. In this case, as the children are adults, Tony and Tracy would only have to show that arrangements have been made for the support of the children if they are deemed to still be children of the marriage. This means that if the children are unable to become independent for any reason, including, for example, the fact that they are continuing on with their education, then before a Court would grant them a Divorce, they would have to show that they have taken steps to ensure that the children are adequately going to be cared for.
In addition to the above, before a Court will grant a Divorce, the parties will have to demonstrate that there has been a breakdown of their marriage as evidenced either by:
- the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding; or
The spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since celebration
of the marriage:
- committed adultery; or
- treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty.
In this case, there is no evidence of any adultery or mental or physical cruelty, and as the couple have lived separate and apart for a period of four years, it is likely that a Court would be satisfied that there has been a breakdown of their marriage.
Once Tony has completed the aforementioned steps to file the entirety of the materials required by the Court, and once a Court makes an Order for their Divorce, their Divorce will officially take effect on the 31st day after the date of the Order and the two will be free to enter into marriages with their current partners.