The steps for divorce in Ontario

Steps to divorce in ontario

Feb 9, 2017

If you want to file for divorce, have been served divorce papers or are simply considering divorce, you may have questions about what is involved. In order to dissolve a marriage in Ontario, you must prove in the Superior Court of Justice that you are legally married and that your marital relationship has broken down. The steps for divorce begin with preparing and filing an application with the court.

The best way to navigate the process of a divorce in Ontario is to hire a Family Law lawyer to guide and advise you. This blog will provide information about divorce that you should know.

Determine grounds for filing for divorce

You will need to establish that you are entitled to a divorce.  Canada’s Divorce Act identifies the basis for a divorce as “marriage break down.” The three accepted grounds for divorce in Canada include:

  • Adultery
  • Abuse or Cruelty
  • Separation

A one year separation or a no fault divorce is the most common and best way to pursue a divorce in Ontario. Once you are separated from your spouse, you may apply for a divorce.  However, the court will not dissolve your marriage until one year of separation has been completed. Before divorcing, it is recommended that you have settled all issues with your spouse.  These may be set out in a separation agreement which is a legally binding contract.  It is also advisable that you use a Family lawyer to draft a separation agreement for you or to review any agreement proposed by your spouse before signing.  If there are children involved, your separation agreement should include a parenting plan.   

Uncontested divorce

Ideally, both spouses should agree upon the divorce before an application is started.  In this scenario, one party commences the divorce application and after the proceeding is served the other does not oppose it.  In fact, the other party does nothing and files no materials in the divorce proceeding. This allows the filing party to proceed through the necessary steps on an uncontested or default basis.  

How Can a Divorce Lawyer Help You

You may start your divorce application in the Superior Court at the local courthouse where you reside.  

Once you have filed an application for divorce and paid the required fees, you must arrange to serve your spouse.  He or she has 30 days to respond to your application.  If they do not, you or your lawyer will next prepare an affidavit for divorce.  The affidavit takes the place of providing testimony to a judge and is your evidence for the court.  If you are entitled to a divorce, the judge reviewing your filed affidavit will grant a divorce order.  Thirty days following the divorce order, you can obtain the certificate of divorce.  The certificate can be issued at the court counter.

In the alternative, you may choose to work with a Family Law lawyer who will prepare, file and arrange for service of a divorce application on your behalf.  An experienced Family lawyer can help you successfully navigate all the steps of a divorce proceeding. The lawyer will also advise you on an issues you should be aware of when separating from your spouse and the consequences of your divorce.  Click here to find a St. Catharines Family lawyer to assist you with separation and divorce.

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