Going through a separation or divorce process can be difficult and time consuming. It’s important to understand your rights and choices. To help you with this, we’ve tackled some of the most frequently asked questions:

1. When you separate or divorce, you’ll need to make decisions regarding:

2. Can we resolve our family law issues without going to court?

Yes. You do not have to go to court to resolve legal issues regarding children such as decision-making responsibility, support, or parenting time. You can resolve these disputes outside of court through negotiation, family mediation and arbitration:

  1. Negotiation – Hire a lawyer to discuss issues in order to reach an agreement.
  2. Mediation – Bring in a neutral person to help both parties agree.
  3. Arbitration – Although arbitration takes place outside of a courtroom, it is a legal proceeding and the arbitrator acts like a judge. The arbitrator must be impartial and give each person the opportunity to present their case.

3. How do I start the divorce process in Ontario?

To start the divorce process:

  1. Fill out a divorce application.
  2. Submit the application at an Ontario courthouse.
  3. Pay the required court fees.
  4. Follow any court rules and procedures given.

If it’s a simple divorce, meaning one of the two parties starts it, then that party applies, and not the spouse. If it’s a joint divorce, then both parties apply together.

4. How do I get my divorce certificate?

Submit a divorce application to the registrar’s office and receive a divorce judgment. Wait 30 days in case your spouse wants to appeal. If you and your spouse agree about the major issues in the divorce – decision-making responsibility, child support, parenting time, etc. – and there is no appeal, you can expect a divorce certificate to be issued in a timely manner.

5. I’m not a Canadian citizen. Will I be forced to leave Canada if my partner and I separate or divorce?

No. If you’re a permanent resident, and the separation occurs during your sponsorship, you cannot lose your status or be forced to leave Canada only because you separate from your partner. This is true even if your partner sponsored your application for permanent residence.

6. What’s the difference between a “fault divorce” and a “no fault divorce”?

With a fault divorce, the spouse filing the divorce claims the other spouse is responsible for ruining the marriage. With a no-fault divorce, no blame is placed on either party.

Canada has a no-fault divorce policy. The only ground for a divorce in the Divorce Act is marriage breakdown. The Divorce Act says you can show your marriage has broken down if any ONE of the following criteria applies to you:

  • You have been living apart for one year or more. Note: The Divorce Act accepts that it’s possible for you and your spouse to live in the same house and yet be considered to be living separate and apart.
  • Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you. Note that there are several “fault grounds” for an immediate divorce without waiting the one year, including:
  • Physical abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Drug/alcohol addiction
  • Your spouse has committed adultery

7. What if my partner and I agree on what to do after we separate or divorce?

If you’re married or in a common-law relationship, and you and your partner agree on your family law issues, you can put what you’ve decided on in a separation agreement. This is a written contract that you make together.

If a court action has been started already, and a Court Order has been issued by a judge, then settling the matter and reaching an agreement leads to a Consent Order.

8. What can I do if my partner isn’t following our court order to pay child or spousal support?

You can try talking to your partner, on your own or with the help of a lawyer or mediator, about why they are not following the court order.

If that’s not working, you can get help from the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), a government agency that enforces child and spousal support payments. They will collect support directly from your partner, pay that amount to you, and keep a record of the amounts paid.

9. How do I change my separation agreement?

Try negotiating with your partner. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to go to court to issue a “motion of change”. This is a court process used to ask a judge to change a court order or separation agreement.

10. I lost my marriage certificate. How do I get another one?

If your marriage is registered in Ontario, you can order a copy or multiple copies online at Service Ontario. You can use this certificate to process a divorce.


Call us to learn more.

At Howard Nightingale Professional Corporation, we have the expertise to manage all of your separation or divorce issues in a comprehensive manner. And we provide the personal attention and dedicated focus of a small law firm.

Please reach out to us to schedule an initial consultation at our Toronto office at 416-663-4423 or toll free at 1-877- 224-8225.

We’ll ensure you get the results you deserve.


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