FAQ – Canada Divorces

If you have any questions regarding your documents or any of the procedures, you will find our staff to be courteous, knowledgeable and always eager to help. Please keep in mind that we are not a law firm and none of our employees are lawyers. As such, we are unable to provide you with legal advice. The information below is intended to provide you with general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice or assistance.

Although divorce is legislated federally, each province has different forms and procedures. Please refer to your specific province page for more detailed information. Clicking on the drop down menu at the top and bottom of this page and selecting the province where you will be filing for your divorce will take you directly to your specific province page.

If your question is not answered below, please feel free to contact us.

How much does your service cost?

The cost varies depending on your circumstances and where you will be applying for a divorce. In addition to our fees and applicable taxes, you can also expect to pay a filing fee at the Court.

How long does it take to obtain a divorce?

The length of time it takes for your divorce to become final depends largely on your unique circumstances. In our experience, an uncontested divorce usually takes four to six months to become final, however it can take more or less time.

Please keep in mind that due to factors out of our control, we can not guarantee how much time the Courts will take to process your divorce. As such, it is recommended that you do not plan any significant events, such as a wedding, without your divorce first being finalized.

What are the grounds for divorce?

To answer this question, we have included the relevant section from the Divorce Act (Canada). Our service is available only if you want to proceed with a divorce based on a one year separation.

“8. (1) A court of competent jurisdiction may, on application by either or both spouses, grant a divorce to the spouse or spouses on the grounds that there has been a breakdown of their marriage.

(2) Breakdown of a marriage is established only if:

1. the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding; or

2. the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since celebration of the marriage,

a. committed adultery, or

b. treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.”

What is a joint divorce?

When both you and your spouse are in agreement and you both are willing to sign the divorce documents, then some provinces allow you to proceed with a joint divorce. This eliminates the need for service of the documents upon your spouse and can save you time and money.

Please keep in mind that you both must be willing to sign the divorce documents. If one spouse changes his or her mind after the initial joint divorce documents are signed and filed, then it can be costly and time consuming to continue.

Please note that if one spouse changes his or her mind and decides not to continue with a joint divorce action after the initial documents have been filed, then we cannot assist you and will recommend that you seek the advice of a family lawyer.

What is an uncontested (sole) divorce?

An uncontested, or sole divorce, is also known as an undefended divorce. This is where one spouse is the Plaintiff (or Petitioner) and the other spouse is the Defendant (or Respondent). The documents are signed and filed by the Plaintiff and served upon the Defendant. The Defendant has a period of time to respond to, or defend, the divorce action. If the Defendant does not respond to the divorce action, then the divorce is considered to be uncontested.

Please note that we can only assist couples seeking a joint divorce or uncontested divorce and therefore, if your divorce action becomes contested, then we cannot assist you and will recommend that you seek the advice of a family lawyer.

What if I can’t find my spouse?

Generally, your spouse will either need to sign the divorce documents or have the documents personally delivered “served”. The divorce documents can be served on your spouse at home, at work or any other place. If you cannot locate your spouse, you will need to show the Court that you have tried to locate your spouse.

You might first try searching on the internet at such sites as www.canada411.com or www.yellowpages.ca. You could also try contacting any friends or family members of your spouse. You might also want to contact a skip tracing service (look in your phone book for one near you). If you still cannot locate your spouse you may need to talk to a lawyer about your available options.

What if we have children?

To answer this question, we have included the relevant sections of the Divorce Act (Canada).

Section 11(1)(b) of the Divorce Act (Canada) states,

In a divorce proceeding, it is the duty of the court to satisfy itself that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children of the marriage, having regard to the applicable guidelines, and, if such arrangements have not been made, to stay the granting of the divorce until such arrangements are made.

Section 2(1) defines a “child of the marriage” as:

“child of the marriage” means a child of two spouses or former spouses who, at the material time,

(a) is under the age of majority and who has not withdrawn from their charge, or

(b) is the age of majority or over and under their charge but unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to withdraw from their charge or to obtain the necessaries of life.

Section 2(1) also defines “age of majority” as:

“age of majority”, in respect of a child, means the age of majority as determined by the laws of the province where the child ordinarily resides, or, if the child ordinarily resides outside of Canada, eighteen years of age

What all this means is that there is a connection between the payment of child support and the granting of a divorce. In order for us to be able to assist you, the amount of child support being paid must meet or exceed the applicable table amount set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines. We also need to have copies of current (within one year) written agreements or court orders setting out your arrangements.

Do I need a Separation Agreement to get a divorce?

This is a legal question we simply cannot answer for you. Only a lawyer can answer this for you. However, our service is available to obtain your divorce, with the possible exception of a divorce with children, without a separation agreement provided you are content to proceed without one.

Can you help me if I need to claim child or spousal support, custody, access or division of property and assets?

No. Our service is available only for obtaining a divorce. If you have not resolved your other issues and you want to make additional claims, such as division of assets, support or child custody, you may want to discuss your options with a family lawyer. Please keep in mind that if these issues are not dealt with prior to obtaining your divorce, you may not be able to make any future claims. For further information on this, you should speak with a family lawyer.

What documents do I need?

Original Certificate of Marriage. You will need your original Certificate of Marriage or certified copy of the Registration of Marriage from Vital Statistics. The certificate you received at the church (or any other place you were married) will not be accepted by the Divorce Registry.

Untie The Knot Divorce Service can obtain your Certificate of Marriage for you. Please visit our Marriage Certificate Applications page for details.

If you were married in another country, you need to apply for your original Certificate of Marriage or certified copy of the Registration of Marriage from the equivalent of Vital Statistics in that place.

If your Certificate of Marriage is not in English, you will need to have it translated. Each province has it’s own requirements for how the Certificate of Marriage is to be translated. Check with your local Court Registry or contact us for more information.

Separation Agreement or Court Order (if any). If you have a separation agreement, any court orders or any other written agreements, which sets out the particulars of your separation or any children of the marriage, you may want to forward us a copy. Please do not send us the original. These will assist us in preparing your divorce documents.