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7 Things You Should Know About Canadian Divorce Laws

Many people search online or visit our office with questions about Canadian divorce laws. The Canadian Divorce Act can be complicated, and it can be difficult to understand how the many provisions apply to your specific case. Also, while the Canadian Divorce Act is a federal act, each province or territory is responsible for divorce administration. Canadian divorce laws are a combination of federal laws and provincial procedures. Those procedures vary from province to province, so it’s important to understand the laws and practices in your area.

If you immigrated to Canada, and were married in another country, you may have some additional concerns about which laws apply to you. So, here’s a few things you should know about Canadian divorce laws to get you started.

What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

You can separate if you are married or cohabitating. Only married spouses can divorce. 

A separation is when two people who are married, or who have been living in a common-law relationship decide to live apart. You can live apart in the same home – it means you have decided to end your relationship and no longer pursue a conjugal relationship. If you are cohabitating, a separation ends your relationship.

Under Canadian divorce laws, if you are married, the marriage officially ends when you are legally divorced in court.

A key legal difference between ending a cohabitation or divorce is how property is divided.

Can I Apply for Divorce in Canada If I Was Married Abroad?

Yes. You can apply for a divorce in Canada if your marriage is legally recognized in Canada, your marriage has broken down AND you and your spouse have lived in the Canadian province or territory where you apply for divorce for at least one year. There are some exceptions to these rules, however, so you may need to consult a lawyer on the specifics of your case.

What are Grounds for Divorce in Canada?

Canadian divorce laws include a no-fault divorce, requiring you demonstrate a breakdown in your marriage. That can mean you have been separated for at least one year, your spouse has been physically or mentally abusive, or has committed adultery.  Practically speaking, it is rare to claim a divorce on grounds other than separation.

How do I Apply for Divorce?

You apply for divorce through the family court system in your province or territory. In Ontario, you begin your application through the Ontario Superior Court. Read our blog – Filing for Divorce: The Basics – for a quick overview before you get started.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Divorce?

Under Canadian divorce laws, you do not need a lawyer to apply for divorce, however keep in mind that family law is very complex. You may wish to hire a lawyer, or at the very least have a lawyer review your case to ensure your rights are protected. There are many challenges to self-representation.

What Legal Decisions Need to be Made When I’m Divorcing?

While there are many important decisions you need to make when you are divorcing, the key legal decisions involve property division, child/spousal support, and parenting arrangements

If you cannot come to an agreement together, you also need to decide how you might resolve any family law disputes in these areas. Among other approaches, you can choose mediation, negotiation through lawyers, and negotiation through court. Of these options, going through the court system can take the longest.

How Do I Find A Good Lawyer for My Case?

There are many factors to consider to choose the best family lawyer for your case, including experience, approach, qualifications, and, of course, your budget. We hope you will consider the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm – we focus on family law and work with you to find creative legal solutions to meet your needs.

Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm – Here to Answer Your Questions about Canadian Divorce Laws

Contact the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm if you have questions regarding your separation or divorce. We have family law specialists with expertise in the Canadian Divorce Act and Canadian divorce laws in Ontario. You can start your case online or send us an email to book a consultation.

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Government of Canada: How to Apply for a Divorce