An Overview of the Divorce Process in Ontario

In Canada (and Ontario), a divorce may be obtained by filling the Application at the local Superior Court of Justice, pursuant to the Divorce Act. The requirements for obtaining a divorce in Canada are the following:

1) In order to request the dissolution of your marriage, you must first demonstrates to the court that you have a valid marriage. A marriage certificate, with a certified English or French translation, if necessary, is required. If you do not have the original marriage certificate and cannot obtain one, you or your  divorce lawyer will need to provide an explanation in the Affidavit format. The court may still require you to adduce some alternate evidence of the marriage prior to granting divorce.

2) You must establish if the court has jurisdiction to grant your divorce. Superior Court of Justice in Ontario only has power to grant a divorce if either party has ordinarily resided in the Province for at least one year (12 months) prior to the submission of the application for divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the Application must be served on the other party according to the Family Law Rules. If the party cannot be located, your Toronto divorce lawyer can assist you by submitting a motion to dispense with service or a motion for substituted service.

3) There is only one legal ground for divorce. Namely, the court must be satisfied that your marriage has broken down irretrievably, without a prospect of reconciliation. A period of separation of 12 months immediately before filing the application usually satisfies the court of this fact. A couple may be separated and still live together provided they satisfy the court that they are not living as spouses. That is to say, their relationship has reduced to sharing accommodation. The Court is normally satisfied that separation has taken place by the applicant swearing as to the separation on the application for divorce – unless there is some evidence of collusion.

3) Superior Court will not grant a divorce in Ontario unless the presiding judge is fully satisfied that appropriate arrangements for any children of the marriage have been put in place. Your Toronto family lawyer may explain this requirement in greater detail, but essentially, this requirement does not mean arrangements are formal, nor does it mean that there is no dispute, but rather that at the time of the divorce hearing, the children are being appropriately cared and provided for.