I Need a Divorce Now: Severing Corollary Relief

Corollary relief is something that a party seeks from the Court, that is in addition to the main relief they are seeking. In family law matters, corollary relief is most often understood as referring to issues of spousal support, child support, parenting, and division of property.  The main relief being sought from the Court is a Divorce Judgement, but related to the divorce itself are a host of issues that the parties need to deal with as they begin to untangle their lives.  Unfortunately, though parties are usually in agreement that they want a divorce, it’s the corollary relief issues that can be difficult to settle. 

If one party is seeking to sever the corollary relief, they are essentially asking the Court to allow the divorce to proceed, while related matters remain outstanding.  In ordinary circumstances, the Court is hesitant to grant a Divorce Judgement if the parties have contested issues still to be determined.  Clients are often in a hurry to get the Divorce Judgement so that they can finally be officially divorced.  The reality is, as long as issues of support, parenting, and matrimonial property remain, the work involved in ending the relationship is not over. 

There are cases when the circumstances of the parties require that the Court intervene and grant a divorce, even before the related issues are settled.  When will a court do this?  Courts are unlikely to grant an application to severe corollary relief if one of the parties can prove that it would prejudicial for them to do so.  However, the sitting Justice will have a fair amount of discretion in making this determination, so it is difficult to predict the outcome of these types of applications.  It is the burden of the person applying to severe the corollary relief to prove why it is necessary.  A simple desire to finally be divorced will not be sufficient.  The party bringing the application will need to demonstrate the reason(s) why the outstanding issues cannot be settled prior to the divorce being granted.   

It should be noted that cases involving children are even less likely to have corollary relief severed, as the Court has a duty to ensure that reasonable arrangements have been made for the children of the marriage.  In most circumstances, “reasonable arrangements” involve both a comprehensive parenting/access plan and an agreement with respect to child support.  Without assurance that the children are taken care of, a Justice is unlikely to find a compelling reason to severe corollary relief and proceed with the Divorce Judgement. 

It is possible that both parties come to an agreement to severe corollary relief, although a Justice will still be required to sign off on the Court Order.  

If you are considering bringing an application to severe corollary relief in your divorce proceedings, contact the lawyers at Crossroads Law.  We have experience in bringing these types of applications and can help you decide if your circumstances warrant an application to severe corollary relief.  

By Amanda Marsden