"Gunther" from "Friends" Finally Files for Divorce 11 Years After Separation

James Michael Tyler, the actor that played "Gunther" on the popular television show "Friends," has finally filed for divorce from his wife, Barbara Chadsey, a personal trainer, who he separated from in 2003.

Tyler and Chadsey married in 1995, just one year after "Friends" hit the air. Although the couple officially separated in 2003, they have remained married.

According to TMZ, Tyler has cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the Divorce.

While the cause of this lengthy delay in filing for divorce is, as of yet, unknown, such a delay may be problematic for Tyler and Chadsey if they have not resolved their property issues.

Although the law in California may be different, in Ontario, there are limitation periods for bringing claims with respect to property following separation. Section 7 of the Family Law Act authorizes the court to determine equalization claims of a spouse, former spouse, or the estate of a deceased spouse, but only when they are brought within the earliest of the following:

  1. two years following the divorce or annulment;
  2. six years following separation with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation; or
  3. six months following the death of a spouse.

Once the limitation periods have lapsed, it becomes much more challenging to access the property provisions of the Family Law Act. That being said, pursuant to section 2(8) of the Family Law Act, a court may, on motion, extend the limitation periods in the Act if there are apparent grounds for relief, and if the delay was incurred in good faith and the respondent will not be prejudiced by the delay.

In Ontario, there are also limitation periods for bring a claim for a beneficial interest in property - called a constructive trust claim. The courts have recently clarified that beneficial interest claims with respect to personal property must be brought within two years of separation, whereas claims with respect to real property have a ten year limitation period.

Hopefully in the Tyler v Chadsey matter, the parties have either already resolved their property issues or California has longer limitation periods. Otherwise, the parties may have lost out on property claims, unless they are able to convince a court that an extension should be granted.

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