Divorce is governed by the Divorce Act. The Divorce Act is federal legislation meaning it is the same law across Canada.
Most divorces start with individuals deciding they no longer wish to be married and then separate.
You do not need a Court Order or legal document before you are considered “separated”. Past legal cases (referred to as “case law”) have determined you can live in the same residence but be separated. For the Courts to accept you are separated, even if you continue to live in the same residence, your circumstances must meet the conditions outlined in past case law.
Click on a topic below to expand:
Step 1: Service of Commencement Document
This commencement document can be a Statement of Claim for Divorce (and Division of Matrimonial Property) or a Claim under the Family Law Act (Common Law situations).
This document starts the Court process. Commencement documents are personally handed to the opposing party (service of document) by a neutral third party or Process Server.
The person who starts this process is called either a “Plaintiff” or “Applicant”.
**Watch for pre-requisites that need to be completed BEFORE you start a Court application.
The Parenting After Separation course may be a mandatory first step for you.
Step 2: Notice/Service Time
This allows the opposing party to respond to the commencement document within a set amount of time.
Timelines vary depending on what commencement document you use.
The person responding is usually called “Defendant” or “Respondent”.
Step 3: Defendant/Respondent's Response the Defendant/Respondent
This step initiates the Defendants/Respondents response to the commencement document to the Plaintiff/Applicant.
Typically this document may be a Statement of Defence (and Counterclaim) or Responding documents under The Family Law Act.
Step 4: Exchange of Information and Documentation
Exchange of Information and Documentation both the Plaintiff/Applicant and the Defendant/Respondent should exchange all relevant information to each other especially if this information will be presented in Court.
Step 5: Negotiations
Negotiations typically occur after step 4 is completed and prior to a Court application or trial date, it is beneficial to negotiate a settlement.
If this is possible, it will save everyone a lot of money and stress. Please refer to our “Get Help” section for more information.
Please note: Unfortunately, in high conflict divorce or separation, steps 4 (Exchange of Information) and 5 (Negotiation) are filled with strife. Often the parties are stuck in these steps and cannot move to resolution without a multitude of Court Orders and Court applications.
The Divorce Process Chart