Filing Divorce in Canada: The Steps Involved and Divorce Process

How to File for Divorce in Canada

Divorce in Canada is governed by the federal Divorce Act. However, the way a divorce is administered, and all the procedures and documents used to complete it, differ by province or territory. To find information about divorce in each specific province/territory please visit our provincial pages.

General Overview of the Divorce Process in Canada

Step 1: Decide to Divorce and separate from your spouse.

Step 2: Obtain a divorce application. Each province and territory has their own set of forms. You can get the correct forms for your jurisdiction through a lawyer, bookstore, court office or family law information center.

Step 3: Determine your grounds for filing for divorce. Will it be a no fault or for fault divorce?

  • No-fault divorces require a completion of a 1 year separation period.
  • Fault divorces are filed under the grounds of adultery or cruelty. In these types of divorces you are required to provide evidence to substantiate your claims. Be sure to carefully research “for fault divorces” and retain legal representation if this is the way you choose to file.

Step 4: Determine if your divorce is contested or uncontested and specify the type of divorce on your application.

  • Uncontested divorce: both partners agree to the reasons and terms of the divorce. These divorces need only one application.
  • Contested divorce: spouses do not agree on the reasons and/or terms for the divorce. In this case, both spouses are required to file a separate divorce application.

Step 5: If there is a child/children involved, include an outline of your parenting agreement, custody, support etc. For a contested divorce each spouse will need to supply their preferences for parenting. For an uncontested divorce you simply outline your agreed arrangements.

Step 6: File the divorce application/applications at the courthouse in the province/territory in which you reside; or through your lawyer. Each province/territory has a different fee associated with these applications and some places may have additional formalities that you must follow in order to correctly complete the application process. The clerk at the court, or your lawyer, will be able to guide you through this.

Step 7:Wait for clearance from the Divorce Registry in Ottawa. During this time conduct yourself and your services according to the rules of the court procedure. Once divorce papers have been served to your spouse they then have 30 days from the day they are served, to respond to the Divorce. Application

Step 8: After 30 days are up, if there is no answer filed by your spouse, you can then set down your divorce with the court by submitting your Affidavit for Divorce, Divorce Order and Clerk’s Certificate.

Step 9: Wait for notice of the courts decision to grant you a divorce. A judge will review all the material and if satisfied, they will issue you a Divorce Order.

Step 10: You can obtain your Certificate of Divorce 30 days after the Divorce Order is granted. Only then will you be legally divorced and entitled to remarry.

When filing for Divorce in Canada many people have issues regarding child custody, support, property/assets and the steps surrounding the Divorce Process. Filing for divorce in Canada can be done without a lawyer. However, contacting a lawyer who specializes in family law in your province is always the best way to ensure that you rights, children and future are properly protected.

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