FAQ – Divorce and Separation in Ontario

Q – What are the grounds for divorce?

A – Under the Canadian Divorce Act, there is only one ground for divorce, marriage breakdown. Subsection 8(2) of the Divorce Act limits the ways you can prove a marriage breakdown.

Marriage breakdown can be established in these cases:

a) if you and your spouse have lived separately for at least one year before the divorce judgment (although you may begin the paperwork anytime after your separation begins);

b) if the spouse against whom the divorce is sought has committed adultery or has treated you with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to make it intolerable for the two of you to live together.

Q – Do I need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce?

A – Generally, no. You can commence your divorce proceedings by: a) lawyer’s representation; b) non-lawyer consulting services, i.e. paralegal representation and; c) self-representation.

Even if your divorce is uncontested, there may be procedural complications that would require the services of a lawyer. For example, if you have no idea where your spouse is living, you may have trouble serving the Petition for Divorce on him or her.

There may also be children issues, i.e. support, custody, access to be negotiated. If these matters have not been resolved, you may resolve them through a separation agreement before you commence your divorce. A divorce will likely not be granted by the court if children issues are not resolved.

Q – What is involved if I decide to represent myself in a divorce proceeding?

A – The following procedures must be completed:

  • Drafting legal documents.
  • Attending court to issue the Petition for Divorce.
  • Serving Petition for Divorce to your spouse.
  • Attending court to set a motion for divorce.
  • Attending court to obtain divorce certificate.


Q – What is an uncontested divorce?

A – Generally, for an uncontested divorce, the following must apply:

  • No relief other than divorce is being requested. The issues of child support, access and custody have been resolved by the parties through a separation agreement or court order.
  • The grounds for divorce is one year separation.
  • There are no problems serving your spouse.
  • Your spouse is not going to file an Answer.

Q – Do you handle contested divorces?

A – Yes.

Q – Must both spouses reside in Ontario?

A – No. Only one spouse must reside in the Province of Ontario for at least twelve months before the divorce is granted (although you may begin the paperwork anytime after your separation begins).

Q – How long will it take before I’m divorced?

A – Usually within three months of filing your motion record with the court. However, it might require more time because the judge might be unsatisfied with your motion record, or there could be issues of proof that may require court attendance.

Q – Do I need to attend court?

A – In most cases, no court appearance will be necessary for an uncontested divorce when you are represented by a lawyer. However, if it is, then your case may no longer be an uncontested divorce. In that case, then you may need to retain a lawyer to handle the actual hearing in court, for an additional fee.

Q – How much do you charge for a divorce?

A –  For contested matters, our fee will be based on an hourly rate.

Q – Why should I bother to get a divorce when we are already separated?

A – Living separate and apart does not end your marriage. You must get a divorce to legally end your marriage. You must have a divorce certificate before you can marry again.

Q – If I have a marriage certificate granted by another jurisdiction (country or province) can an Ontario court grant me a divorce?

A – Yes. It does not matter if you were married in another province or country. You can apply for divorce in Ontario if you or your spouse have been living in Ontario for at least one year.

Q – Are there time limits?

A – Petition for divorce – NO 

There are no time limits for petition for divorce.

A – Custody Access or Child Support – NO 

There is no time limit with respect to issues relating to children however, delay in resolving these issues may prejudice your rights. For instance, with respect to custody, it is important to keep in mind that stability is one of the things that judges consider when deciding where a child should live. If a child has been living primarily with one spouse for any length of time, a judge may be reluctant to make the child move. Therefore, contact a lawyer immediately to resolve these issues.

A – Spousal Support – NO 

There is no time limit with respect to spousal support.

A – Division of Property – YES 

There are time limits for division of property. If you and your spouse have to ask the court to decide how to divide the property you shared while you were married, there are time limits on how long after your marriage breaks down that you can do this.

Q – Can there be a divorce if only one spouse is ready to divorce?

A – Yes. If one spouse wants a divorce, the marriage has broken down.

Q – Who can petition for the divorce?

A – Either of you can petition, or you can make a joint petition.

Q – How does reconciliation affect the commencement date for separation?

A –You can get back together again for one period of no more than 90 days, or for several periods that add up to no more than 90 days. The 90-day reconciliation period allows you to try to repair your marriage without penalizing you if the attempts are unsuccessful.

Please feel free to contact us at info@jnmlaw.com or call 647-660-9832