Going through a divorce is a difficult time for anyone. If you’re considering a divorce or have already made the decision to pursue one, it’s important to understand the process and your rights under Ontario law. Divorce in Ontario is governed by the federal Divorce Act and Ontario’s Family Law Act, and there are specific steps that must be followed in order to obtain a divorce.
To start the divorce process in Ontario, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being legally married, having lived in Ontario for at least one year, and having grounds for divorce. Once you have met these requirements, you can begin the divorce application process, which involves filling out and filing various forms with the court. The process can be complex and time-consuming, and it’s important to seek legal advice if you have any questions or concerns.
Understanding the divorce process in Ontario can help you navigate this difficult time with greater ease and clarity. From the grounds for divorce to the division of property and decision-making responsibility for the child (previously known as “child custody”), there are many important factors to consider. By educating yourself on the process and working with an experienced family lawyer, you can make informed decisions and move forward with confidence.
▪Divorce in Ontario is governed by both federal and provincial laws, and there are specific eligibility requirements that must be met in order to obtain a divorce.
▪The divorce application process can be complex and time-consuming, and it’s important to seek legal advice if you have any questions or concerns.
▪Understanding the divorce process and working with an experienced family lawyer can help you make informed decisions and move forward with confidence.
Understanding Divorce in Ontario
If you’re considering divorce in Ontario, it is important to understand the basic process and requirements. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Grounds for Divorce
In Ontario, you must have a reason, or “grounds,” for seeking a divorce. The most common grounds for divorce are having lived separately for at least one year, adultery, and cruelty. You must be able to prove the grounds in court, either by providing evidence or by the other party admitting to them.
When a marriage ends in Ontario, property acquired during the marriage must be divided equally between the parties. This can include the family home, cars, furniture, pensions, and money. If you owned property before the marriage and its value increased, this is usually divided equally as well. It is important to note that property division can be a complex and contentious process, and it’s best to seek legal advice.
The divorce process in Ontario involves filing an Application for Divorce, which must be served on the other party. After the other party responds, a financial statement must be filed and exchanged. If there are issues related to property division or decision-making responsibility, additional court documents may need to be filed. It’s important to follow all court deadlines and attend all required court hearings.
Decision-Making Responsibility and Support
If there are children involved in the divorce, decision-making responsibility and support arrangements must be made. In Ontario, the best interests of the child are the primary consideration in decisions related to which parent will have decision-making responsibility. Child support is calculated based on the paying parent’s income and the number of children being supported.
While it is possible to represent yourself in a divorce case, it’s best to be represented by a lawyer. A lawyer can provide guidance on the legal process, help negotiate settlements, and represent you in court. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you may be eligible for legal aid.
Overall, divorce in Ontario can be a complex and emotional process. It’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities, and to seek legal advice if necessary.
Grounds for Divorce
To get a divorce in Ontario, you need to show that your marriage has broken down and that there is no chance of reconciliation. The Divorce Act in Canada identifies three valid grounds for divorce: adultery, abuse/cruelty, or separation.
If you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for at least one year with the idea that your marriage is over, you can apply for a divorce on the grounds of separation. This means that you and your spouse have not lived together for at least one year and that there is no chance of reconciliation.
If your spouse has committed adultery and you haven’t forgiven them, you can apply for a divorce on the grounds of adultery. Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not their spouse.
If your spouse has been physically or emotionally abusive towards you, you can apply for a divorce on the grounds of abuse/cruelty. Abuse/cruelty can include physical violence, emotional abuse, or a pattern of behaviour that is meant to control or intimidate you.
It’s important to note that all divorces in Canada are no-fault divorces. This means that you don’t need to prove that your spouse did something wrong in order to get a divorce. Instead, you simply need to show that your marriage has broken down and that there is no chance of reconciliation.
In summary, to get a divorce in Ontario, you need to show that your marriage has broken down and that there is no chance of reconciliation. The valid grounds for divorce in Canada are adultery, abuse/cruelty, or separation.
The Divorce Application Process
When you decide to get a divorce, the first step is to file an application with the court. Here is a breakdown of the process:
Filing the Application
To file for divorce in Ontario, you need to complete a Form 8A Application (Divorce). You can file a Simple Application or a Joint Application. A Simple Application is filed by one spouse, while a Joint Application is filed by both spouses together. You will need to pay a fee when you file the application.
Serving the Application
After you file the application, you need to serve it on your spouse. This means that you need to give your spouse a copy of the application and any other documents that you filed with the court. You can serve the application in person, by mail, or through a process server.
Response to Application
Your spouse has 30 days to respond to the application after they have been served. If your spouse doesn’t respond within this time, you can ask the court to grant a default judgment. If your spouse responds, they may file a Form 10 Answer and any other documents they want the court to consider.
After both parties have filed their documents, the court will schedule a Case Conference. This is an opportunity for the parties to discuss the issues and try to come to an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the parties can file a Consent Order. If no agreement is reached, the court may schedule a Motion for Temporary Orders.
Motion for Temporary Orders
A Motion for Temporary Orders is a request for the court to make an order on a temporary basis until the final divorce order is made. This can include orders for decision-making responsibility, child and spousal support, and exclusive possession of the matrimonial home.
If the parties can’t come to an agreement at the Case Conference, the court will schedule a Settlement Conference. This is an opportunity for the parties to discuss the issues with a judge and try to come to an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the parties can file a Consent Order. If no agreement is reached, the court may schedule a Trial.
Trial and Judgment
If the parties are unable to come to an agreement at the Settlement Conference, the court will schedule a Trial. At the Trial, the parties will present their evidence and the judge will make a decision. After Trial, the court will issue a Judgment and a Divorce Order if appropriate.
Division of Property
When it comes to divorce in Ontario, division of property can be a complex and emotional process. In general, any property acquired during the marriage must be divided equally between the two spouses. This can include your home, car, business, furniture, pension, and money. However, any property that you owned before the marriage is usually exempt from division, although any increase in value during the marriage may be subject to division.
One of the most significant assets that you and your spouse may have to divide is your matrimonial home. This refers to any residence or property that one or both spouses have an interest in or a home that is ordinarily occupied as the family home. In general, the matrimonial home is subject to division, regardless of who owns the property or whose name is on the title.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide the matrimonial home, the court may order that the property be sold and the proceeds divided equally between the two of you. Alternatively, the court may order that one spouse buy out the other spouse’s interest in the property.
Pensions and Retirement Savings
Pensions and retirement savings are also subject to division during a divorce. This can include any funds that you have saved in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), a pension plan, or other retirement savings account. In general, any contributions made to these accounts during the marriage must be divided equally between the two spouses.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on how to divide your pensions or retirement savings, the court may order that the funds be divided equally between the two of you. Alternatively, the court may order that one spouse receive a larger share of the other spouse’s pension or retirement savings in exchange for giving up other assets.
In conclusion, the division of property can be a complicated process during a divorce. It is important to work with a lawyer who can help you understand your rights and obligations under Ontario law and negotiate a fair settlement with your spouse.
Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time
When it comes to divorce, one of the most challenging and emotional decisions is determining who will have primary decision-making responsibility and parenting time. In Ontario, decision-making responsibility and parenting time are based on the best interests of the child. This means that the court will make decisions that prioritize the child’s well-being and safety.
Creating a parenting plan is an essential part of the decision-making responsibility and parenting time process. A parenting plan outlines how the child’s time will be divided between the parents, who will make decisions about the child’s upbringing, and how the parents will communicate about the child’s well-being.
It’s best that parents work together to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child. If the parents can’t agree on a parenting plan, the court can order one.
Best Interests of the Child
When determining decision-making responsibility and parenting time, the court considers the best interests of the child, which includes:
- The child’s emotional, physical, and psychological needs
- The child’s age, gender, and background
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- The child’s wishes, if they are old enough to express them
The court may also consider other factors, such as the child’s relationship with siblings, extended family, and community.
It’s important to note that the court doesn’t automatically favour one parent over the other. Instead, the court will make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child.
In conclusion, decision-making responsibility and parenting time can be a challenging and emotional part of the divorce process. Creating a parenting plan and considering the best interests of the child can help ensure that the child’s well-being and safety are prioritized.
Child and Spousal Support
When going through a divorce process in Ontario, child and spousal support are important considerations. Spousal support is the money paid by one spouse to the other after they separate or divorce. On the other hand, child support is the money paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the children.
The amount of child and spousal support is determined by a set of guidelines established by the Ontario government. These guidelines take into account factors, such as the income of each spouse, the number of children, and the arrangement related to decision-making responsibility and parenting time.
It’s important to note that these guidelines aren’t set in stone and a court may deviate from them if there are special circumstances. For example, if a spouse has a medical condition that prevents them from working, the court may order a higher amount of spousal support.
Enforcement of Support
The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is responsible for enforcing child and spousal support orders in Ontario. If a spouse fails to pay the required amount of support, the FRO can take legal action to enforce the order. This may include garnishing wages, seizing assets, or suspending the payor’s driver’s license.
In addition, if one spouse lives outside of Ontario, the FRO can still enforce the support order if the other spouse lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction. It’s also important to note that the FRO charges fees for its services, which are paid by the payor spouse.
Overall, child and spousal support are important considerations during the divorce process in Ontario. The amount of support is determined by guidelines established by the Ontario government, but a court may deviate from these guidelines if there are special circumstances. The FRO is responsible for enforcing support orders and can take legal action to ensure that the required amount of support is paid.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
If you and your spouse are considering getting a divorce, you may have heard of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is a process that allows you to resolve your divorce case without going to court. ADR can be faster, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. Two common types of ADR are mediation and arbitration.
Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party, called a mediator, to resolve your divorce case. The mediator helps you and your spouse communicate and negotiate with each other to reach an agreement. Mediation can be less expensive and less time-consuming than going to court. It can also be less stressful because you and your spouse are in control of the outcome.
Arbitration is a process where you and your spouse present your case to a neutral third party, called an arbitrator, who makes a decision for you. The arbitrator’s decision is binding, which means you and your spouse must follow it. Arbitration can be faster and less formal than going to court. It can also be less expensive because you and your spouse share the cost of the arbitrator’s fees.
It’s important to note that ADR may not be appropriate for all cases. For example, if there is a history of domestic violence or one spouse is not willing to negotiate in good faith, ADR may not be effective. It’s important to consult a lawyer to determine if ADR is right for your case.
In summary, ADR can be a useful tool for resolving your divorce case without going to court. Mediation and arbitration are two common types of ADR. Mediation involves working with a mediator to negotiate an agreement, while arbitration involves presenting your case to an arbitrator who makes a binding decision. Consult a lawyer to determine if ADR is right for your case.
After your divorce is finalized, there may be situations where you need to make changes to the divorce order or appeal it if you’re not satisfied with the outcome. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Changing a Divorce Order
If you need to modify the terms of your divorce order, you can do so by applying to the court for a variation. This can include changes to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, child and spousal support, or property division.
To apply for a variation, you’ll need to show that there’s been a significant change in circumstances since the original order was made. This could include a change in income, a change in living arrangements, or a change in the needs of your children.
It’s important to note that you can’t ignore the terms of your divorce order even if you disagree with them. Failing to comply with a court order can result in serious consequences, including fines or even jail time.
Appealing a Divorce Order
If you’re not satisfied with the outcome of your divorce case, you may have the option to appeal the decision. However, it’s important to understand that appeals can be complex and time-consuming, and they’re not always successful.
To appeal a divorce order, you’ll need to show that there was a legal error made in the original decision. This could include an error in interpreting the law, a failure to consider important evidence, or a procedural error.
It’s important to seek legal advice before deciding to appeal a divorce order. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand your options and the likelihood of success.
Remember, post-divorce matters can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. It’s important to seek the guidance of a qualified family lawyer to help you navigate these issues and protect your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the typical timeline for a divorce in Ontario?
The timeline for a divorce in Ontario can vary depending on the complexity of the case. In general, a simple divorce, where both parties agree on all issues, can take about four to six months to finalize. However, if there are disputes over property, decision-making responsibility, or support, the process can take much longer.
What are the necessary steps to file for divorce in Ontario?
To file for divorce in Ontario, you’ll need to complete a series of forms and file them with the court. Depending on whether it’s a simple or joint application, the necessary forms can include an Application for Divorce, a Continuing Record, and Affidavit for Divorce, and your original marriage certificate. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee. Once the forms are filed, you’ll need to serve them on your spouse and wait for a response.
Can I file for divorce in Ontario without a lawyer?
Yes, you can file for divorce in Ontario without a lawyer. However, it’s important to note that the divorce process can be complex, and it’s best to seek legal advice before proceeding. If you choose to represent yourself, you’ll be responsible for completing all the necessary forms and following the court procedures.
What is the cheapest way to get a divorce in Ontario?
The cheapest way to get a divorce in Ontario is to file for an uncontested divorce. This means that both parties agree on all issues, including property division, decision-making responsibility, and support. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement, you can file the necessary forms and avoid the cost of a trial.
How long do I need to be separated before filing for divorce in Ontario?
In Ontario, you need to be separated for at least one year before you can file for divorce. This means that you and your spouse must have lived separate and apart for 12 consecutive months without reconciliation.
Is there a way to check the status of my divorce application in Ontario?
Yes, you can check the status of your divorce application in Ontario by contacting the court where your application was filed. You’ll need to provide your name, the name of your spouse, and the date your application was filed. The court can then provide you with an update on the status of your case.