A separation occurs when one or both spouses decide to live apart with the intention of not living together again. Once you are separated, you may need to discuss custody, access and child support with your spouse. You may also need to work out issues dealing with spousal support and property. You can resolve these issues in different ways:
You can negotiate a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legal document signed by both spouses which details the arrangements on which you have agreed. In some jurisdictions, independent legal advice is required to make the document legally binding.
You can make an application to the court to set up custody, access, support and property arrangements under the provincial or territorial laws that apply to you.
You can come to an informal agreement with your spouse. However, if one party decides not to honour the agreement, you will have no legal protection.
To legally end your marriage, you need a divorce, which is an order signed by a judge under the federal law called the Divorce Act.