Jesse Williams and Aryn Drakelee-Williams: Importance of Pleadings

As reported by TMZ, Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams has recently filed for divorce from his wife Aryn Drakelee-Williams. The couple has been married for 5 years, but have been together for a total of 13 years. There are two children from their relationship, ages 3 and 1. According to reports, the divorce documentation doesn't list a date of separation, and Jesse has asked the court to deny Aryn spousal support, and claims that the couple is working this issue out in mediation instead. Reports indicate that the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement.

Jesse and Aryn need to be careful with respect to the specific claims they are seeking from the Court. Although the couple appear amicable and are hoping to resolve most of their issues through mediation, problems could arise if the negotiations breakdown, and the couple is forced to resort to the litigation process.

In Ontario, the preparation of thorough and complete pleadings is very important because a party cannot ask for relief from the court which was not originally claimed in their pleadings, without leave of the Court. In other words, when drafting pleadings, parties need to make any and every claim that they may possibly need to make in their matter, in case it's needed later. In the case of Jesse and Aryn, it would be advisable for Aryn to make a claim for spousal support in her responding materials in case the Court ultimately needs to make a determination on this issue.

Another potential issue with Jesse's pleadings is that he does not list a date of separation. The date of separation is incredibly important in family law because this is the date at which assets and liabilities are valued for the purposes of the division of property. If the couple's mediation eventually breaks down and they resort to the litigation process, they may be asking the Court to decide the issue of the division of property, and if so, the Court will need to know the parties respective positions with respect to the date of separation.

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