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When the Clock Starts on Living Separate and Apart

Famous chef and tv personality Anthony Bourdain and wife Ottavia Busia have officially split. The couple married back in 2007. In an interview with New Yorker magazine, Bourdain claims he was very pleased that he would no longer have to pretend to be in a happy relationship with his wife after years of carrying on their lives separately.

But many couples feel that they are leading separate lives long before they officially separate; so, what differentiates a legal separation from an emotional one?

In Ontario, living separate and apart is one of the three grounds recognized by the court for divorce. Typically, this means that at least one of the spouses have moved into their own living space. However, it is possible to live separate and apart under the same roof. For this sort of separation to be considered valid by the courts, couples ought to be living in separate bedrooms, abstaining from sex with each other, not performing domestic services for each other (cooking), not traveling together and not presenting themselves to their community as a couple.

The intention to separate, illustrated through these behaviors, is enough to commence the separation period even if one spouse does not want to separate. Intention to end the marital relationship can be unilateral.

Therefore, in Ontario Mr. Bourdain's period of separation would likely still have only been considered valid from the date of his official separation in spite of the fact he and his wife were leading "separate lives." This is because they still presented themselves to the world as a unified couple for a long time before eventually deciding to part ways.


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