When two people who have been living together in a marriage or a common law relationship decide not to live together any more they are separated. There is no such thing as a "legal" separation; if you are living apart, you are separated. Separation does not have to be mutual. Two people are separated even if only one person wants to separate. Under certain circumstances, two people may be considered separated even if they live under the same roof.
Divorce in Canada is governed by the federal Divorce Act. It applies to all provinces in Canada.
In order to obtain a Divorce in Ontario you or your spouse must have ordinarily resided in Ontario for at least one year prior to the Divorce Application. The most common ground for obtaining a Divorce is that the parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. In certain circumstances parties may be considered as being separated even if they continue to live under the same roof.
A Divorce Application may be commenced at any time after the date of separation; however, the parties must have been separated for at least one year at the time of the Divorce Order. In Ontario the Divorce Application is commenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Before a Divorce is granted the court also requires that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of the children of the marriage having regard to the Child Support Guidelines. In most cases this requires the parties to have a Separation Agreement or Court Order in place that adequately deals with child support prior to the granting of a Divorce Order.