How to get a Divorce in Ontario step by step
How to File a Divorce Application in Ontario
When divorcing in Ontario, first, it’s important to understand the legalities aka the family law in Ontario and the legal fees surrounding your case. To file for a divorce application in Ontario, you’ll go through the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Now, the process can be initiated by filing an online application. To file this way, both you and your spouse will have to meet these requirements:
- Be separated for one year or more
- Be able to afford the application without a fee waiver
- Have been married in Canada or have an electronic marriage certificate from another country (joint divorce only)
Note that even if you don’t meet the requirements to file your divorce application online, you can still apply in person by visiting the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
While making those arrangements, understand that if there will be an issue surrounding child custody after the divorce, you’ll need to file your divorce application in the family court location where your children reside. This is the case regardless of whether you’re filing an online or in-person application.
Have you and your spouse decided to officially end your marriage?
If so, you aren’t alone. Research shows that four in 10 first marriages in Canada end in divorce. In fact, there are now more unmarried people than married people over the age of 15 living in the country.
When you’re ready to make the decision official, you’ll need to file for a divorce.
However, it’s no secret that legal processes can be confusing and difficult to follow. That’s why we’re here. Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive guide on how to get a divorce in Ontario, covering all of the details you need to know.
Read on as we share how to get started, who to talk to, which forms to complete and what steps to follow.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get into it.
Getting a divorce in Ontario - What is the criteria
While you don’t have to be a citizen of Canada to file for divorce here, there are certain criteria that you’re required by divorce law to meet before you can initiate a divorce.
Specifically, an Ontario court will not officially end your marriage until you’re able to provide clear evidence that you meet the following requirements:
- You and your spouse were legally married in Canada or in any other country.
- You and your spouse lived in Ontario for at least 12 months before you filed your application for divorce.
- You are prepared to separate permanently from your spouse or have already taken steps to do so. You do not foresee the possibility of reconciliation.
One exception to the first rule? The residency requirement could have flexibility in the event that both you and your spouse live outside of Canada in a country that does not acknowledge your Canadian marriage. If this is the case, Canada’s Divorce Act will not apply to you. However, you might be able to file for divorce under the country’s Civil Marriage Act.
The caveat? To do so, you’ll have to meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You and your spouse got married in Canada.
- You’re unable to divorce your spouse in the country where one (or both) of you live because that country doesn’t recognize your Canadian marriage.
If these both apply to your situation, your family lawyer can help you navigate the process to file for divorce under the Civil Marriage Act. The steps to follow will align with those set forth by the Superior Court in the territory where you were married.
What is the difference between simple divorce and joint divorce?
Another thing that couples should keep in mind is what type of divorce application fits their circumstances. The Ontario courts have tried to provide separate processes that can help couples get through the system faster.
Using these processes, couples can proceed on filing their divorce with any one of three different applications. The major differences between the applications are based on time, cost, cooperation and agreement.
What is joint divorce in Ontario?
In a joint divorce, you and your spouse will usually file together. Usually, you should have agreed on all the major points of the divorce, and should have a separation agreement that covers these points. That agreement will be required by the court as part of the supporting documents you should file.
When you are done filing, a judge will review your documents to ensure that they are complete and that you and your spouse are qualified under the conditions required to get a divorce.
There may be no need for either of you to appear in court or meet with the judge. If the judge has questions though, they may require your presence or send a copy of an endorsement explaining what you should do.
If there are no questions from the judge, or after you have answered satisfactorily, the judge will grant you a divorce order. From start to finish, you can expect the process to take about 3 months, or even less, depending on what court you are applying to or if there are any problems with your documents.
What forms do I need for a simple divorce in Ontario?
A simple divorce is one that only asks the court for a separation of the married couple. Usually, only one spouse makes the application and the only order requested of the court is that the marriage should be brought to an end.
This is one of the speediest ways of applying for a divorce and would ordinarily take from 4 to 6 months, after which a divorce order will be granted. However, what happens next depends on what your spouse does.
If your spouse does not respond
Once you have filed your divorce application, along with the required supporting documents, you must wait for a response from your spouse. If they do not respond within 30 days, you can go ahead to file the following documents:
- Form 36A: Affidavit for a Divorce: In this form, you will be required to provide information about you and your spouse, as well as your children. The form requires financial disclosure of any arrangements that you made with your spouse about custody, access, child support, spousal support or division of property. The affidavit must be sworn or affirmed.
- Form 25A: Divorce Order: In this form, you will be required to indicate what orders you want the court to make.
- Original marriage certificate
At this point, you can consider the divorce to be uncontested. After providing these documents, a judge will review the documents to ensure that they are complete. The judge will also ensure that you meet the conditions to get a divorce.
You may not need to appear in court or meet with the judge. But if the judge wishes to question you, the court clerk will contact you with a court date or a copy of the judge’s endorsement that indicates what you are expected to do.
If there are no questions for you, or after answering satisfactorily, the judge will grant you a divorce order. The order directs that your marriage be dissolved on the conditions stipulated in it. You should either receive a call to come pick up the order or the clerk can mail you a certified copy in a stamped envelope.
The order does not go into effect immediately though. It will only take effect 31 days after the date indicated on the order. As from this date, you can consider yourself legally divorced.
If your spouse responds
After filing your divorce application and serving it on your spouse, your spouse may respond. They would usually respond by filling Form 10: Answer, and serving you with a copy of the document. Certain other documents may accompany this form, including:
- Form 35.1: Affidavit in Support of a Claim for Custody and Access: If they are asking for custody or access to the children of the marriage, you will receive this form.
If your spouse does not agree with your claim for a divorce, then you have a contested divorce. The process becomes more completed and delays the period within which you may get a divorce order.
You will need to obtain the services of a qualified divorce or family law lawyer to help you resolve these issues before the court. Only when they have been resolved by the court will you receive a divorce order. Again, the order will only take effect after 31 days from the date indicated on it.
Can you get divorce without your spouse signature?
Compared to simple divorce, here the filing spouse is not concerned with only divorce. They would be asking the court to decide other matters as well, which may include child custody, spousal or child support, or division of property. This application is appropriate when the spouses cannot agree on any of the main issues involved in the divorce. Mediation is often an alternative to Family Court.
Filing a Joint Divorce Application
The uncontested divorce in Ontario joint application is one in which both you and your spouse are working toward a common goal together. You both agree that it’s best to legally end the marriage, so you’re working on all court orders as a team. You are also handling other family law matters, such as spousal support, in a unified manner.
Whether you’re filing online or in-person, there are a few different forms you’ll need to prepare to file for a joint divorce application in Ontario. Some of these forms will be completed together with your spouse, and others will be completed on an individual basis.
Joint Application Forms
The joint forms that you’ll complete and submit as a unit include:
- #8A Divorce Application
- #6 Acknowledgment of Service
- #36 Affidavit of Divorce
- #25A Divorce Order
- Federal Divorce Proceedings Registration
- Application for Divorce court rule 8A, akaForm 8A
- Any applicable child or spousal support forms
- A copy of your marriage certificate
Concerning that last bullet, if you were married in Ontario, you can contact the Office of the Registrar General to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate. You can also visit Service Ontario to access a copy of the record.
On the other hand, if you were married in a different province or territory, you’ll need to contact that local government for a copy of your marriage certificate. The same applies if you were married in a country other than Canada, though keep in mind that if the marriage certificate is in any language other than English or French, you’ll have to include a certified English translation.
In the event that you absolutely cannot obtain a copy of your marriage certificate, you can note the reason why in Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce.
Where do you get divorce application forms
In addition to the joint forms listed above, there are also a few individual forms that each spouse will need to complete on his or her own. Note that while you can download these online, you cannot complete them that way. Rather, you’ll have to sign each one in front of a qualified commissioner, who can verify that you affirmed each statement before signing.
Not sure where to find such an official? Any family court office can put you in contact with a commissioner, normally at no additional cost.
The individual forms to complete include:
- Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce (required)
- Form 35.1: Affidavit in Support of Claim for Custody or Access (if you’re seeking child custody or access)
- Form 13: Financial Statement (Support Claims) (if you’re seeking child or spousal support, but not a division of property)
- Form 13.1: Financial Statement (Property and Support Claims) (if you’re seeking a division of property)
While these are the forms required by law to initiate your divorce, there is additional documentation that you can include to support your case. These documents include:
- Any former court orders issued concerning your marriage
- Your separation agreement
- The minutes of your settlement
- Any Notices of Calculation or Recalculation issued concerning child support
Filing a Simple Divorce Application in Ontario
A simple divorce application is one in which the filing party is only seeking to terminate the marriage. He or she isn’t requesting any other form of relief from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
In addition to a copy of your marriage certificate, the only form you’ll need to complete and sign is Form 8A: Application (Divorce).
Similar to a joint divorce application, you may also want to supplement this documentation with the following:
- #8A Divorce Application
- #6 Acknowledgment of Service
- #36 Affidavit of Divorce
- #25A Divorce Order
- #6B Affidavit of Service
- Federal Divorce Proceedings Registration
- Any former court orders issued concerning your marriage
- Any Notices of Calculation or Recalculation issued concerning child support
What is difference between fault and no-fault divorce?
Now that you know which forms you need to complete and where, are you ready to proceed with the divorce application process?
If so, you’ll need to first know whether you’re filing for a fault divorce or a no-fault divorce. In other words, are you filing because your spouse harmed you in any way? If so, that qualifies as a fault divorce. On the other hand, if you’ve simply been separated for a year and you’re ready to make things official, that’s a no-fault divorce.
To apply for a divorce, you’ll need to satisfy one of the three criteria:
- You and your spouse have been separated for one year (no-fault divorce)
- Your spouse committed adultery and you have not forgiven him or her (for fault divorce in Ontario)
- Your spouse has inflicted emotional or physical cruelty on you (for fault divorce in Ontario)
If you meet one of these requirements, you can proceed with the divorce process. This tutorial provides an in-depth look at the key concepts of getting divorced.
The basic steps are as follows:
- Fill out the appropriate divorce forms (described above)
- Submit your application and other forms at an Ontario courthouse
- Pay all necessary court fees
- Follow the rules and procedures given by the court
Before you begin down this journey, it’s wise to seek legal advice and counsel from a local expert with experience in family law. This team will be able to make sure you’re completing the right paperwork and taking the right precautions.
Do you need a separation agreement before divorce in Ontario?
Though they’re similar in nature, divorce and separation are two different motions.
The main difference? While a divorce legally ends your marriage, you’re still legally married during a separation, although it often precedes divorce.
Both of these actions put physical space between you and your spouse. You will live separately, take care of any children separately, and separate your finances.
However, during a separation, you’re still married under legal terms. That means you’ll check “married” on any official forms and during this time, you cannot remarry. You also have access to certain family-specific benefits, including the right to inherit possessions from your spouse.
To make the separation as official as possible, you and your spouse can create a separation agreement that outlines the terms to follow during your time apart. Some of the key details to include are:
- How you’ll handle shared property (i.e. Which spouse gets the car? What happens to the house?)
- Any financial support to be provided for each other or children
- Who will care for the children
- Where the children will reside
- Any other issues of contention or concern
Conversely, if you divorce your spouse, you are no longer legally married. You can remarry at any time you wish, and you give up your inheritance rights. Ontario normally requires that spouses complete a one-year separation period before filing for divorce. Yet, there are some ways around this mandate.
Want to skip right to the divorce process without enduring a separation first? There are a few criteria to meet. Find out if you’re eligible with this self-assessment tool.
Filing your Application for Divorce in Ontario
The following is an outline of the steps that are involved in filing an Ontario divorce. Applicants must:
- First gather the relevant documents. For a simple divorce, Forms 35.1, 13 and 13.1 will be unnecessary.
- Make four copies each of all your documents and insert them in a stamped envelope addressed to each party.
- Take the documents to the court office where you will meet with a court office staff.
- The court office staff will assign the case a court file number and place a court seal on the application. You will also need to swear under oath to the content of Form 36.
- You will be given a Registration of Divorce Proceeding form to fill out. This form will be sent to the Department of Justice to determine if you have had any other divorce applications. If the form comes back clear, the Central Registry of Divorce will issue a Clearance Certificate.
- After filing, the court will issue a Divorce Order within 6 to 8 weeks from filing, if the divorce is a simple or uncontested divorce.
- Once the Divorce Order is issued, you can then obtain a Certificate of Divorce.
Does a divorce decree mean you are divorced?
After finalizing your divorce order, you can apply for a divorce decree, known as a divorce certificate. To do this, you will be expected to fill Form 36B: Certificate of Divorce.
The certificate confirms the date on which you and your spouse became legally divorced. This will be the date on which a 31-day period expired from the date you received the divorce order.
To get your certificate of divorce, you need to go to the same court that granted your divorce order. You will also be expected to bring a copy of your divorce order along with you.
A fee of $24 will be required before you can collect the certificate. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or money order.
How much does it cost to get a divorce in Ontario?
The total cost of obtaining a divorce in Ontario is $632. When the divorce application is filed, the first payment of $212 is needed, which includes $202 in court fees and $10 for the federal Department of Justice.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Ontario?
A straightforward divorce can be concluded in 4 to 6 months; When things like custody and property division are disputed and difficult, divorces that require judicial action or mediation can take longer.
Conclusion: How to get a divorce in Ontario
After you have taken the decision to end your marriage, determining how to proceed should be the next line of action. This can often be easier said than done however.
Couples often find that filing for divorce in Ontario is different from what they expected. In some instances, it may proceed quite swiftly, especially where the spouses are in agreement over the major issues. In most cases, however, the court supervised divorce process will involve differences between the spouses on major issues.
Apart from this, the process often includes the filing of numerous forms and observance of rules that can quickly get confusing. Although many of these procedures can be understood and followed by couples willing to expend the effort, the emotional strain of the divorce process can often make that a daunting prospect.
Besides, if the couple is embroiled in a dispute involving complicated legal issues, they will need all the help they can get. Having professional assistance with the complicated legal aspects of the divorce will help make things easier, even if you still want to file by yourself.
When you are going through an emotional divorce with someone you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with, the last thing you want is to have to spend a lot of time filling forms that remind you of what could have been.
You can make the process easier by relying on a service that helps you get all the paperwork done and avoid costly errors. At Divorce the Smartway, we can assist in helping you prepare your divorce documents.
Making filing for divorce less stressful
Divorce and mediation expert, Ken Maynard, understands the difficulties that the divorce process can pose. The services provided by Divorce the Smartway can make a difference and help you and your spouse reach a positive resolution fast.
A two-time divorcee himself, Ken understands how frustrating the divorce process can be. This is why he has put considerable effort into helping couples avoid the complications that can arise when filing for divorce. He can help you and your spouse reach a resolution that works for both of you and stays in line with your interests.
If you are planning on filing for divorce in Ontario, our Naked Filer package can help relieve the stress of the process and eliminate the chance of errors. Call us on 1.855.731.3500 today to get started. Start Your Uncontested Divorce Now
More about the Divorce Forms aka Divorce Papers
More about the uncontested divorce forms you need in Ontario?
The forms required to be filed in an Ontario divorce proceeding will generally depend on the type of your divorce and the orders you want the court to make. These forms are technically called “Rules”. So don’t be confused if you find them referred to as Rules instead of forms.
You can access links to each of the forms on the Ontario Court of Justice website here. Each of these forms is explained below.
This is the first form you will come across in the Ontario divorce process. Either you or your spouse must fill out Form 8A, but how you will proceed depends on if you are going through a joint or simple divorce. If you have a simple divorce, check the “simple” box, then fill the appropriate section, sign and date the form. If the divorce is joint, check the “joint” box, but you and your spouse will need to sign and date the form.
The form will ask you to provide your personal details, including your full legal name and address for service, telephone number and email address. If you are filing a simple divorce, you will need to provide these details for your spouse as well. You will also be required to provide the name and contact details of your lawyer if you have one.
In addition to the information provided above, you will need to fill in the dates of your marriage, when you started living together (if you lived together) and the date of separation. The form also requires you to provide details of children of the marriage, if any.
This form is required by the Canada Department of Justice. The purpose of the form is to inform the court, and the Department of Justice, that no other divorce applications have been submitted on behalf of you or your spouse in Canada.
You will be required to fill and send the form to the Department of Justice. There, your application will be checked against the federal database. If you have no other applications ongoing, a clearance certificate will be sent to the court where you have filed your divorce application. The court must get this certificate before you can finalize your divorce process.
In a simple divorce, it is important to let your spouse know that you have commenced the divorce process. Because it is important to give both parties the chance to prepare for the process and present their case before the court, you will be required to fill and submit an affidavit of service.
After filling and filing your divorce application, you must serve this document, along with any attachments in your application, on your spouse. This means you have to deliver the documents to them at their residence.
The affidavit of service operates as proof that these papers were truly served. The form also requires you to outline exactly how service was effected. This is usually no problem unless you were unable to find your spouse at their residence or if they are out of the country. Then you may be able to ask the court to let you deliver the papers by “substituted” means, such as service by email or pasting on the door of their residence.
Just like you are required to show that you have served your spouse, they in turn will be required to acknowledge service. They must fill and return form 6 to the court, showing that the divorce papers were truly served on them and they are aware of the divorce petition against them.
The acknowledgement of service also tells the court that the other party is ready to proceed with the divorce process. From here, your spouse can either agree to the orders you are seeking from the court or inform the court of the order they would prefer the court to make.
No matter if the divorce is joint or simple, you and your spouse will be required to fill this form. The form will require detailed information about you and your spouse, the children of the marriage and any arrangements or plans you have for the separation.
This form is an affidavit, meaning it is a legal document that must be verified before a person authorized by law. You will be required to swear or affirm the affidavit before a notary public, a commissioner for oaths or a judge. Sometimes, you may be required to pay a fee before you are able to conclude this form.
You must be careful to ensure that all the information you provide in the form is true and accurate, to the best of your knowledge. Lying on an affidavit is treated the same as lying to a judge in court. This may expose you to criminal liability for the crime of perjury.
Although the divorce process is primarily about dissolving a marriage, there are several other issues that may need to be resolved. This includes issues relating to child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, equalization of property etc.
Form 25A lets you indicate which of these issues you would like the court to resolve on behalf of you and your spouse. It is not in all divorces that this will be necessary. For instance, if you and your spouse have already decided on these issues and have a binding separation agreement in place, you don’t need to ask the court to decide on your behalf.
You may ask only for an order dissolving your marriage. Or you may ask the court to decide these other issues as well. Note that you cannot fill this form by hand. It must be filled electronically, on a computer.
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At Divorce the Smartway, we believe that obtaining a divorce application shouldn’t drain your wallet with exorbitant legal fees. That’s why we’ve harnessed the power of technology to streamline the process, making it as hassle-free as possible.
Enter Naked Divorce Filer – a tool designed to simplify your journey. By completing our straightforward online questionnaire, you’re taking the first step towards a new chapter. Once submitted, our dedicated team springs into action, meticulously preparing your divorce application documents. We ensure every detail is legally compliant and error-free, saving you time and stress.
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Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FM
I help smart and successful couples, create separation agreements with clarity and soft landings for secure futures, in 4 meetings or less without all the lawyer created overwhelming conflicts, confusion and costs. You can work with me by video conference or with a DTSW associate at any of our 6 DTSW Greater Toronto mediation centers, including | Aurora | Barrie | North York | Vaughan | Mississauga | Scarborough.
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