Divorce In Ontario

Divorce In Ontario

What does it mean to get a divorce in Ontario?

In Ontario, getting a divorce means legally ending a marriage. It is the process by which a married couple formally terminates their marital relationship, allowing them to remarry if they choose to do so. Here are some key aspects of getting a divorce in Ontario:

Grounds for Divorce: In Ontario, the only ground for divorce is the breakdown of the marriage. The breakdown of a marriage can be established in one of three ways:

  1. Separation: The couple has lived separate and apart for at least one year with no chance of reconciliation.
  2. Adultery: One spouse has committed adultery, and the other spouse finds it intolerable to continue the marriage.
  3. Cruelty: One spouse has treated the other with physical or mental cruelty that makes living together intolerable.

Jurisdiction: To get a divorce in Ontario, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the province for at least one year immediately preceding the divorce application. If neither you nor your spouse meets this residency requirement, you may need to seek a divorce in the jurisdiction where either of you meets the residency criteria.

Divorce Application: To initiate the divorce process, one spouse must file an application for divorce with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The application will outline the grounds for divorce and any other relevant information. Additionally, it is possible to submit a joint divorce application.

Waiting Period: After the divorce application is filed, there is a mandatory waiting period of one year, beginning from the date of separation. This waiting period is in place to allow for the possibility of reconciliation.

Division of Property, Support, and Custody: While the divorce process primarily deals with the termination of the marriage, it does not automatically address issues such as the division of property, spousal support, or child custody. These matters need to be resolved separately through negotiation, mediation, or the court system.

Finalizing the Divorce: Once the waiting period has elapsed, and all other related issues have been resolved, the court can issue a divorce order, officially terminating the marriage.

It is important to consult with a family lawyer who specializes in divorce matters to navigate the legal process, understand your rights and obligations, and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to obtain a divorce in accordance with the laws of Ontario.

What are my rights if I get a divorce?

When going through a divorce in Ontario, both spouses have certain rights and entitlements under the family law framework. Here are some key rights you have if you get a divorce in Ontario:

Division of Property: Ontario follows the principle of equalization of net family property, which means that spouses are generally entitled to an equal division of the value of assets acquired during the marriage, minus any excluded property or debts. This includes real estate, pensions, investments, bank accounts, and other assets.

Spousal Support: If there is a difference in the financial circumstances of the spouses after the divorce, one spouse may be entitled to receive spousal support from the other. Spousal support is determined based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the roles and contributions of each spouse, their respective incomes, and their ability to become self-sufficient.

Child Custody and Access: Both parents have rights and responsibilities concerning the custody and care of their children after divorce. The court’s primary consideration is the best interests of the child. Parents have the right to seek custody (decision-making authority) and access (visitation rights) and can negotiate or seek a court order to establish these arrangements.

Child Support: Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. The amount of child support is determined based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines, which consider the income of both parents, the number of children, and the custody arrangement. Child support is intended to cover the child’s basic needs and expenses.

Independent Legal Advice: You have the right to seek independent legal advice during the divorce process. It is important to consult with a family lawyer who can explain your rights, help you understand your legal options, and advocate for your interests throughout the process.

Protection from Harassment or Abuse: If you have concerns about harassment or abuse from your spouse, you have the right to seek protection through legal measures, such as obtaining a restraining order or filing for a peace bond.

It is important to note that the specific rights and entitlements can vary depending on the individual circumstances of the divorce. Consulting with a family lawyer who specializes in divorce matters is advisable to understand your rights and ensure that they are protected throughout the divorce process.

How can I protect myself during a divorce?

Protecting yourself during a divorce in Ontario involves taking several important steps to safeguard your rights and interests. Here are some measures you can consider:

Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a reputable family lawyer who specializes in divorce cases. A lawyer can provide guidance on your rights, explain the legal process, and help protect your interests throughout the divorce proceedings.

Understand Your Finances: Gather and organize all relevant financial information, including bank statements, tax returns, property ownership documents, and investment records. Having a clear understanding of your financial situation will help ensure a fair division of assets and can support your case for spousal support or child support.

Maintain Open Communication: Effective communication with your spouse can be beneficial in reaching agreements and minimizing conflict. However, it’s important to consult with your lawyer before engaging in any discussions to ensure that you don’t inadvertently compromise your legal position.

Protect Your Privacy: Safeguard your personal and financial information. Change passwords for your online accounts, secure physical documents, and be cautious about sharing sensitive information with your spouse during the divorce process.

Preserve Evidence: If there are contentious issues or disputes, gather and preserve any evidence that may be relevant to your case. This can include correspondence, text messages, emails, financial records, or any other documentation that supports your claims or helps refute false accusations.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution: Explore options such as mediation or collaborative family law to resolve issues outside of court. These methods can often be more cost-effective and less adversarial, allowing you to maintain greater control over the outcome.

Protect the Well-being of Children: Focus on the best interests of your children throughout the divorce process. Cooperate with your spouse to create a parenting plan that promotes the well-being and stability of your children.

Self-Care and Emotional Support: Divorce can be emotionally challenging, so it’s crucial to prioritize self-care and seek emotional support. Lean on trusted friends, family, or seek professional counseling to help you navigate the emotional aspects of the divorce.

Remember, every divorce case is unique, and the specific steps you need to take to protect yourself may vary. Working closely with a knowledgeable family lawyer will ensure that your rights are safeguarded and that you are well-informed throughout the divorce process.

What should I prepare before talking to a divorce lawyer?

Before talking to a divorce lawyer in Ontario, it can be helpful to organize your relationship history chronologically, from when you first met your spouse, to the present day.  In addition to your relationship history, here are some key things to prepare:

Overview of the Present Day Situation: Take some time to think about your current situation and the issues you anticipate in your divorce. Consider aspects such as child custody, property division, spousal support, and any concerns or disputes you may have.

Questions and Concerns: Prepare a list of questions and concerns you would like to discuss with the lawyer. This can help ensure that all your queries are addressed during the consultation. Your lawyer will need to obtain sufficient background before they can begin answering your questions. Family law is very case specific and fact dependent and the answers will often depend on your unique circumstances.