How to file for Divorce in Ontario

How to File Divorce in Ontario

Ending a marriage often comes with a lot of upheavals, not least when it comes to the legalities. If you are looking to end your marriage legally, then you will need to apply to the courts for a divorce order, and here, we take you through the ins and outs of the legal requirements. You will learn step by step process on how to file Divorce in Ontario.

It is, of course, best to have a reputable divorce lawyer in Ontario to assist with this side of things, particularly if there is property to be divided between you, or there are children involved.

How to file for Divorce myself

You can apply for a divorce on your own even if your partner is not in agreement, but it is often best to have an Ontario divorce lawyer to help you with this.  If your partner does not respond this is often referred to as an “Uncontested Divorce”. A “Contested Divorce” is one where the partner responds but disagrees with your requests.

You need to meet specific criteria in Ontario to get a divorce. You must have had a marriage ceremony and be able to show the marriage is ended. The court may not support your application if you don’t meet these criteria.

Religious divorce

Marriage is not legally finished if you have a religious divorce, but for some religions, this is a requirement should you wish to remarry in the same faith. You obtain this type of divorce through your religious organization or place of worship and not the courts.

The Matrimonial home

Each partner in a marriage has an equal right to remain in the marital home and a share of its value, regardless of who owns the home. Moving out does not mean you give up these rights.

If you don’t own the matrimonial home, you are entitled to a portion of the value in the event of a divorce, however, because you are divorced you don’t have an equal right to remain.

Types of Divorce in Ontario

Divorce only or other issues as well?

You need to decide before you apply to the court whether you want a divorce only, or you also want to consider such things as custody child support, access, spousal support and dividing property.

These other issues do not require you to go to court, they can be dealt with by a family law professional in Ontario as part of a separation agreement. There may be certain circumstances which might mean you would prefer to ask a court to deal with these family law issues:

  • You want an enforceable court order
  • You don’t believe you and your partner can reach an agreement without this help
  • There is a history of mental illness, drug or partner abuse

Divorce has no time limit. However, if you want to claim to divide property, you only have 6 years from the date of separation, and 2 years from the date of divorce, to do so.

The type of form you use to ask the court for a divorce in Ontario depends on the kind of divorce you are seeking. Forms are available online or from the court in both French and English.

lace too. This can take a lot of stress out of the process, no matter how agreeable your partner is or not.

Divorce Forms Ontario

Divorce Forms

If you are asking the court for a divorce, and making other claims, then you will need to use Form 8. There are several different forms that you may need to fill in if you are asking for other things. Your family lawyer in Ontario will be able to help with this. Form 8A is the for you will require if you are seeking just a divorce. The only other thing you can request with this form is to ask the court to ensure your partner pays the costs of obtaining the divorce.

You should submit 3 copies of the forms to your court where a Superior Court of Justice or a Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice will be able to complete a divorce order.

You are required to attend a court in the municipality where:

  • You or your partner have been a resident for a year
  • Or if you are seeking child support, access or custody, where you children are residents

A court clerk will assign your application a court file number which will be written onto your form. They will sign and date your form and place a court seal on them and give you a Registration of Divorce Proceedings form.

You must Complete the Registration of Divorce Proceedings Application form. Thereafter the courts of Justice send the Divorce Proceedings form to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice in Ottawa will check the database to ensure that no other divorce applications have been made for you and your partner in Canada. If there are no other Divorce applications filed, the Department of Justice will send a clearance certificate to the court. The court must get this certificate before it gives you a divorce.

You should also start a Continuing Record, the court file of every document you will present to the court, and a table of contents – this is where you make a list of the documents in the Continuing Record.

If you want the order mailed out, you must provide the court with 2 stamped envelopes, one for each party. Alternatively, you can pick the order up.

Divorce application

When you apply for a divorce with your partner you will need to fill out Form 8A, only one of you will need to fill in the application, but you must tick the “joint” box, and both parties must date and sign the form. You can also use this form to apply for any other orders such as access, custody, child and spousal support and also to divide any matrimonial property. You will both need to fill out Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce.

You will need to confirm the information on your forms is correct before you can sign them. This is done in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits or a public notary. They will also sign and date the form. It is a crime if you do not tell the truth.

You will also need to fill in Form 25A: Divorce Order, this is the form you use to tell the court the orders you want to make. If the court agrees to this, then the form will be signed by the judge and will become your divorce order. You cannot fill this form in by hand it must be done on a computer. If you are not filing online, you must fill in a Registration of Divorce Proceedings, this must also be done online.

These forms are sent to the Department of Justice from the court, they will check their records to ensure there are no other divorce applications for you and your partner in Canada. In the event, they find nothing they will send a clearance certificate to the court, who need this before they can issue your divorce.

You will also need an English translation of your original marriage certificate, or if you can’t get this, you will need to explain why on Form 36. You should also provide 2 stamped envelopes so the court can send copies of the divorce order to both parties.

If both parties agree to the other issues, then you can request orders for these from the court. You will need other forms to apply for these, and they can be obtained in French or English from the family law court.

When your divorce application is complete, you will need to file it with a Superior Court of Justice or a Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice. This can be done in person or in some cases online.

Divorce in Ontario Costs,  Court fees  & Lawyers Fees

Total Court Cost to File a Divorce in Ontario is $632, to be paid in two installments. When you file your application, you need to pay the first installment of $212, and you will pay the second installment of $420 when the Judge will review your application. You do not have to pay tax on this amount since you will be making a payment to Government.

You can pay cash, cheque or money order. If you are unable to pay you can request a fee waiver which means you won’t pay most of the court fees. Court Fees Waiver is not common but it can be granted in special circumstances.

Additional Divorce Cost is Lawyer’s Legal Fees ranging from $499 to $765 + Tax for Drafting, Filing, and ensuring the Divorce Order is issued without rejection. You can learn about our Divorce Lawyer Legal Fees can by visiting our Divorce in Ontario Costs Page.

In Addition to Lawyer’s Legal Fees, you may incur process server costs for service of court documents, which could range between $90 to $250 + HST. Please note that process server costs would not be applicable if you are filing a Joint Divorce Application.

If you retain Shaikh Law, we only charge legal fees $765 + HST including service of documents within GTA.

serving divorce papers in ontario

Ensuring your partner has a copy of the paperwork

You will be required to serve either Form 8 or Form 8A on your partner. They need a copy of the application and a blank Form 10. This should be done within six months of the application being issued. Failure to do this in the timeframe may mean the court closing your file. You cannot serve your partner directly; you need to do it by special service. A friend or family member aged 18 or a professional process server can do this, they will need to fill out Form 6B: Affidavit of Service.

This form gives the court details of where and when your partner was served, it acts as proof your partner received the paperwork and is aware, they need to respond. For residents in Canada, there are 30 days to respond, 60 days if they are not living in Canada.

When your partner resides outside Ontario

When your partner is not an Ontario resident the Hague “Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (the “Hague Service Convention”)” may apply. You can see which countries this applies to on their website.

If they live in a country on the list you should serve them through the Central Authority in Canada, if they live in a country not on the list, you should use Ontario rules.

You must follow the rules for service. If you don’t and your partner does not respond, the judge may refuse to make the orders you are asking for.

Joint Divorce in Ontario

How to File for Divorce with my partner, if we both agree

If both parties agree to divorce then you can make a joint application; otherwise, the person wanting a divorce should apply on their own as previously discussed.

The criteria for obtaining a divorce in Ontario are the same whether you are seeking to make a joint application or a single one, and the same rules apply in the case of a religious divorce or in regard to the matrimonial home – please see How to file for divorce myself, above, for confirmation of this information.

divorce in Ontario online

Divorce in Ontario Online

If you wish to file online, you must meet certain criteria:

  • You or your partner must reside in Brampton, Hamilton, Toronto or Ottawa. If you are looking for access or custody, you must file where your children reside
  • Have resided in Ontario for a minimum of 1 year before requesting a divorce
  • Have been separated for a minimum of 1 year

Both parties will need to:

  • Have been married in Canada or be in receipt of a marriage certificate issued electronically
  • Agree to the divorce
  • Agree to other issues
  • Be able, and willing, to sign the documentation
  • Be able and willing to attest to the validity of the information in the documents

If you file online you will need to supply all of your documentation this way, it will be scanned and saved as a PDF. Filing a simple case online should take around 30 minutes.

You can also file in person at the court.

divorce certificate ontario

Getting your divorce orders

Your documents are reviewed by a judge, and if everything is right, you will not have to go to court or meet with the judge. A divorce order will have a date when it takes effect, this should be 31 days from the date of the divorce order. This is your divorce date.

Depending on your paperwork and what you are applying for the complete process should take around 3 months.

Certificate of divorce

When you have received your divorce order, you may apply for Form 36B: Certificate of Divorce. This gives confirmation of your legal date of divorce, and you will need this if you wish to marry again. In order to get the certificate, you will need to visit the court where you applied for your divorce with a copy of the divorce order.

There is a court fee of $19 to pay.

No matter how simple you think your divorce will be, it is always wise to get advice from an Ontario divorce lawyer – especially if there is a home involved or children of the marriage. Getting specific advice from a divorce lawyer can help ensure you have a legally binding divorce, where all asset sharing is sorted out and custody arrangements are in place too. This can take a lot of stress out of the process, no matter how agreeable your partner is or not.