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Divorce Process in Ontario: What You Need to Know

The divorce process in Ontario may seem complicated, especially if you have no previous experience with family law issues. And the truth is, unless you are getting an uncontested divorce (also called a simple divorce), your journey through the Ontario divorce process will likely have many twists and turns.

Divorce in Canada is covered by the Federal Divorce Act, so the divorce process in Ontario is similar to what you might experience anywhere in Canada.

The key decisions you will need to make when you divorce revolve around three matters:

  1. Property Division
  2. Support (Child and Spousal Support)
  3. Parenting

If you are considering divorce, or have been served with papers for divorce, here are a few key concepts to consider about the divorce process in Ontario.

Do you Qualify for Divorce in Ontario?

The first step – do you qualify for divorce in Ontario? The rules are relatively simple:

  • You must be currently married – common-law couples cannot apply for divorce. Instead, they need to go through a separation process.
  • With some exceptions, you need to be a Canadian citizen, married in Canada, and living in Ontario for at least a year.
  • Your marriage has broken down – you have a reason, or “grounds”, for divorce.

In the Ontario divorce process, grounds for divorce include if your partner committed adultery, has been physically or mentally abusive, or if you have been separated (living apart) for at least one year. The latter is by far the most common ground.

Choose a Qualified Family Lawyer to Help Guide You Through the Divorce Process in Ontario

While it is not mandatory to be represented by a lawyer experienced in family law, advice from a qualified family lawyer can be critical to make the process easier on you and your family and ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.

Navigating family court is not a simple matter. There are rules on what documents to file, timelines to file them, and what needs to be included at each stage.

Applying for Divorce

Filing your Application for Divorce involves a number of steps. With the support of your lawyer for separation, you will need to:

  • Fill out your application for divorce – there are different application forms depending on whether you are applying for a simple divorce, a contested divorce, or if you are filing jointly (together) for your divorce.
  • You will need a copy of your marriage certificate. If you can’t find your copy, you can get one from Service Ontario.
  • If you have children together, you will need an affidavit outlining support, parenting time, and decision-making responsibilities when it comes to your child or children.
  • You may also need to submit financial disclosure documents outlining your income, expenses, assets, and debts to help with decisions on support eligibility, and property division.

Approaches to Family Law Disputes

It is rare that couples completely agree on all aspects of their divorce. You are separating for good reasons, after all.

When disputes arise, the divorce process in Ontario allows for many different ways to resolve them. In essence, however, they break down into three key processes:

  • Negotiation – during negotiation, the two parties can meet together with the lawyers from both sides or separately through their lawyers, to raise and resolve areas of disagreement.
  • Mediation – in mediation, the two parties meet together with a qualified divorce mediator to discuss their issues and come to an agreement together. When it works, mediation can be quicker and less expensive than court (litigation). It is strongly recommended that you have your mediated agreement reviewed by a divorce lawyer prior to finalizing.
  • Litigation (court) – should negotiation or mediation not resolve the family law disputes, or should you choose not to pursue either course, your disputes can be resolved in court.

Ultimately your Application for Divorce will be presented in court for a judge to issue your Divorce Order. A Divorce Order represents the official end to the marriage. You will also be issued with a Certificate of Divorce to finalize the process.

A simple (or uncontested) divorce can take about 4 to 6 months. If there are disputes involving property, parenting, or support, those issues will need to be resolved through divorce mediation, negotiation, or litigation before your divorce is finalized.

Get Support with the Divorce Process in Ontario – Contact the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm

With over two decades of experience as a leader in Ontario family law, Kelly Jordan and her family law team have deep knowledge of family law. They understand the system and can suggest creative legal solutions to resolve your family law concerns. If you are thinking about divorce, or in the process of divorcing, contact our team to get the help you need. Reach out online, or call our offices in Toronto at 416-849-5501.

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