How do I file for divorce in Canada?
It is always advisable to at least talk to a lawyer first, when filing for divorce. A divorce lawyer can tell you exactly how the law applies to your situation and how to protect your rights. You can then decide what to do.
Use CanLaw's Lawyer Referral Services
to speak to a lawyer knowledgeable about family law.
Do I need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce?
You can commence your divorce proceedings by:
- Lawyer representation
- Paralegal or agent representation
- Do it Yourself self-representation.
Even if your divorce is uncontested, it is wise to consult with a lawyer to ensure your rights are fully protected. Use CanLaw's Lawyer Referral Services to locate a good family law lawyer in your area
You really should get legal advice on financial matters, child support, custody and access which are the major problems that will arise in divorce.
If these matters have not been resolved, before you commence your divorce action, use a CanLaw Separation Agreement kit to at least draft an agreement and/or to negotiate with your spouse.
What is involved if I decide to represent myself in a divorce proceeding?
Check CanLaw's Do It Yourself Divorce page here
To start a divorce application, you fill out the appropriate forms for your province or territory.
Click here to obtain the divorce forms for your province through CanLaw
There are a few things in particular that you have to include in the forms. If there is a child of the marriage, you need to write down the parenting arrangements,
including financial support.
CanLaw has parenting and custody agreement forms available. If these arrangements are in dispute, you will need to describe the arrangements that you are seeking.
Once you have completed all the forms, you file them at the court house, pay the required court fees, and follow the court rules and procedures for your province or
The following procedures must be completed for your Petition for Divorce using separation as the grounds:
- Obtain your original marriage certificate.
- Obtain set of complete divorce forms for your province.
- Fill out the required forms.
- Attending court office to start your divorce process.
- Serve Petition for Divorce to your spouse.
- Attend court office to file proof of service of divorce papers on spouse.
- Obtain divorce certificate.
How do I ensure I follow proper procedures to file them in court and serve them on my spouse?
If there is any animosity between you and your spouse, you may want to use a process server to protect yourself from false allegations.
Find a process server here who will charge a fee for the service, but will not provide legal advice.
How long will it take before I'm divorced?
Expect to wait about two to three months after filing your motion record with the court. However, it might require more time because the judge might be unsatisfied with your papers, or there could be issues of proof that may require court attendance.
Do I need to attend court?
In most cases, no court appearance will be necessary for an uncontested divorce. However, if it is, then your case may no longer be an uncontested divorce. In that case, then you may need to retain a lawyer to handle the actual hearing in court, for an additional fee.
When can I marry again?
Once the judgment is final, you can apply for a Certificate of Divorce. You must have a Certificate of Divorce to get married again in Canada. A Certificate of Divorce is legal proof that you are no longer married.
What if we were never legally married?
If you are not legally married, divorce does not apply to you.
However, you can still negotiate a separation agreement or make an application to the court under the laws in your province or territory to set up
custody, child support and other arrangements.
Common-law spouses have fewer rights upon separation than married couples.
For more information
on the rights of common-law spouses, click here