You have decided you want to get a divorce, now what? It can be hard to navigate the divorce process, especially if you have never gone through a divorce or separation or know anyone who has. You may be overwhelmed with the steps to take and people to contact, but we are here to simplify the process for you.
To get a better understanding of how divorce works in Ontario, we have outlined 10 things that are important to know or to make note of before you get started.
The difference between a separation and a divorce
Before you begin with a divorce, it’s important to understand the difference between a divorce and a separation. A separation is when one or both spouses decide to live apart with no intention of living together again. When you are separated, you may need to review custody (now known as parenting orders), and child/spousal support, as well as dealing with property and shared assets.
A separation agreement is a legally binding and enforceable contract between you and your spouse which outlines how all of the issues have been resolved. A divorce is just a single piece of paper signed by a judge formally ending the marriage. The separation agreement governs your relationship going forward and the divorce allows you to do it again with someone new.
The big difference between a separation and a divorce is that with a separation, your marriage does not legally end. Your marriage can only end with a divorce. To understand what you need to do to get a divorce, this is a simplified guide to the overall divorce process in Ontario.
Know the type of relationship you have
The type of relationship you and your partner have will determine whether divorce is required or not. If you are not legally married, you do not need a divorce. A divorce only applies to legally married couples. However, if you are common law, you will still need to create a separation agreement.
Your marriage does not end once you begin divorce proceedings
Your marriage ends when a judge grants you a divorce order at the end of the divorce process. Once you have started the divorce proceedings, you and your spouse can stop at any time if you both decide to try and make your marriage work.
How to apply for a divorce in Canada
In order to apply for a divorce in Canada, you must:
- Have been legally married in Canada or any other country.
- Intend to separate permanently from your spouse and believe there is no chance you will get back together.
- Have already left your spouse and do not intend to get back together. You can be living under the same roof but living apart.
- Have lived in the Canadian province or territory for at least one year immediately before applying for a divorce in that province or territory.
Know your reason behind getting a divorce
As part of the requirements of getting a divorce, you will need to be able to prove and show that your marriage has broken down. This can be done one of three ways:
- You and your spouse have lived separately for one year with the idea that your marriage is over. This is the most common reason for a divorce in Canada.
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you are able to prove it.
- Your spouse has been physically or mentally abusive to you. This may include acts of physical, mental, or emotional violence.
If one of these situations applies to you, you can move forward with a divorce.
Know whether or not you need to prove who is responsible for the marriage breakdown
When getting a divorce, you do not need to prove that your spouse was a fault, in Canada. If the reason you are applying for divorce is that you and your spouse have lived separately for one year, you do not need to prove who is responsible for the breakdown of your marriage.
However, if you are requesting a divorce because your partner committed adultery or an act of abuse, you will need proof. If this applies to you, keep track of everything you can from text messages to written documents to photographic evidence. Most divorces proceed on the basis of a one-year separation because it is easier to prove.
Know how to start the divorce process
To begin with divorce proceedings, it is in your best interests to work with a divorce lawyer. Just as marriage has a huge impact on your life, divorce does as well. If you want to ensure a strong, sustainable future for yourself, you should work with a divorce lawyer. A divorce lawyer can explain exactly how the law applies to your situation and how to protect your rights. They can also help you resolve the conflicts in your divorce so that you and your spouse can reach an amicable agreement.
Trying to reconcile after you have begun the divorce process
If you and your spouse have already started the divorce process on the grounds of one-year separation, there is still time to reconcile. If both parties decide they want to make their marriage work, you can live with each other again for up to 90 days for the purposes of reconciliation. If you still decide that your marriage will not work after that 90 day period, you can continue with the divorce process as if you had not spent that time together.
Resolving conflict in your divorce
When it comes to divorce, conflict is almost guaranteed to arise. If you and your spouse agree on all issues, you have what is called an uncontested divorce. This is when you or your spouse mutually want a divorce and can come to an agreement on all issues. This includes everything from the division of assets and property to child support. Most people complete a separation agreement and then file for divorce.
However, for more divorcing couples, things are not always this easy. If you or your spouse are having a difficult time reaching an agreement, you should work with a divorce lawyer. A good divorce lawyer can recommend ways for you and your spouse to set aside your differences and reach an agreement that works for both parties.
Choosing the right divorce lawyer
When choosing the right divorce lawyer, remember one important thing: this person will be advising you about very real and very impactful changes in your life. The divorce lawyer you choose to work with could be the difference between you having shared custody of your children or not. It can be the difference between you being able to live independently after your divorce or not. Your divorce lawyer makes a big difference in the outcome of your divorce. So be sure to do your research, look around, and spend a good amount of time choosing the right lawyer for your case ahead of retaining them. Choose someone who is an expert in doing divorce law.
Are you ready to move forward with a divorce?
If you are ready to begin the divorce proceedings, your first step is to reach out to us at Galbraith Family Law. When you book a consultation with us, we will begin by assessing your situation and recommending a divorce lawyer suited to your case. Rest assured that we pride ourselves on making the divorce process as easy as possible for our clients. We always work with our client’s best interests at heart, and we will do everything we can to keep conflict down to a minimum for you. When you are ready, we are here for you. Book your consultation now by giving us a call at one of our five offices across Ontario. For our Toronto offices call 647-370-8965, for our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692 or you can reach us at our Barrie office at 705-230-2734.
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