What You Need to Do to File for Divorce in Canada
Divorce in Canada is a fact of life, as there have been more than 5 million divorces over the course of the last couple of decades.
This is a position that a lot of people find themselves because try as they might, they just can't get their marriages to work. It's important that you do all you can to make your marriage work so that if it doesn't you can leave knowing you gave it your all.
When you know that divorce is the next logical step, you've got a long road in front of you. There are a number of things you should know about getting divorced, both from a legal and personal standpoint.
Utilize these tips so that you're fully in the know on the subject.
Learn the Law and Process For Divorce in Canada
Since about 40% of all first marriages end in divorce you need to do everything you can to inform yourself of the law.
When you at least know the law, you'll have a leg to stand on once it's time to file those papers. This can be a scary thing to go through, so learning a bit more about divorce in Canada from a legal perspective will at least show you the next steps.
As you start mulling over divorce, make sure that these factors remain at the forefront of your thought process:
1. Canadian Grounds for Divorce
Before you file a divorce petition, you'll need to know which grounds for divorce to consider.
When getting a divorce in Canada, the grounds for divorce that you can claim include irreconcilable differences, adultery, and abuse. Irreconcilable differences is the most common one since divorces in Canada are no-fault.
However, you'll need to go through the process of filing all of the proper paperwork and other steps before the courts will hear your divorce case.
2. Uncontested and Contested Divorces
Since you only need to show irreconcilable differences in Canada, you can get a divorce even if your spouse doesn't want one. You filing a divorce satisfies this burden and allows you to move forward with the proceedings.
However, your spouse has a right to contest your claim if there is something in the filing that they reject. From here, they'll be able to file their own petition with the courts, at which point the judge will hear the case.
If both of you want a divorce, then this is considered uncontested. With uncontested divorce in Canada, you can fill out a joint petition with all of the terms and agreements laid out in plain language.
3. Separation and Waiting Period
After filing for divorce in Canada, the judge will look over the petition. Once they see that the two of you have proved irreconcilable differences, you will be able to move forward with the rest of the process.
In Canada, you both have to wait a year before any divorce decree will be final. This year is considered your separation period.
During the separation period, you have to live apart, or otherwise establish yourselves as separated. There are a lot of ways to do this, which is why having a good lawyer who can help document everything will be crucial.
If you are unable to immediately separate or want to give it one more shot, the courts allow you to live together for 3 months out of that 1-year separation period. After the 3 months is up, you can go your separate ways if you choose to move forward without losing any time from your separation period.
However, after that initial 3-month stretch, your separation period will be null and void if you change your mind and move back in together. If you go back and forth, you'll reset your separation clock every time thereafter.
Make sure that you're truly ready to go forward with the divorce to make sure this doesn't happen.
4. Be Sure That You Fulfill All Requirements
Before you can get a divorce in Canada, make sure you know which paperwork to file and where to file it.
You'll also need to be certain that you fulfill the residency requirements. You'll need to have lived in the place you are filing the petition for at least a year. Check into any residency or citizenship issues before filing your divorce petition.
Since you have important matters to decide in a divorce, such as splitting your assets and figuring out child custody, each and every one of these steps requires your full attention and consideration.
It would behoove you to think it over and ensure that you're aware of the laws of divorce in Canada, so you avoid mistakes and problems.
As you're contemplating getting a divorce, you need to also consider the personal aspects.
Take Inventory of Your Life, Decide if You Want to Divorce and Get Your Ducks in a Row
Getting a divorce will test your mental and emotional fortitude.
In order to come out of it with your interests and sanity intact, you need a solid battle plan and the will to go through with it.
Losing your marriage closes a chapter in your life that you thought was never going to come to an end. In order to make it through this issue in a way that allows for growth and closing the door on this previous chapter, it's important to handle it diligently and compassionately.
Consider the tips below your marching orders moving forward.
1. Talk to Some Counselors
Don't let your year separation go by without getting some serious counseling.
Whether you choose to get solo counseling or go to counseling as a couple, it is a necessary step in the healing process.
Get some recommendations from your friends and family members to be sure you are hiring a counselor that is skilled at helping you work out the problems. During the divorce and separation, be sure that you are seeing your counselor at least once per week.
Stay on top of these appointments so you can start to wrap your mind around what your life will be like following the divorce and will know that you are mentally fortified to handle it.
Since therapy can cost a bit of money, do what you can to find a counselor whose services you can afford. This may take some shopping around, but it will definitely be worth it once you find someone you can talk to that can help you process this stage in your life.
2. Seek Agreements and Closure
The most important thing you can do during your divorce is to find some agreements and cooperation when at all possible. By filing your divorce jointly, it'll be easier for you to get a quick and effective process.
Since marriage can be difficult, so too can coming up with an agreement once you are trying to end it.
Sitting down together and having some tough conversations will help you to figure out the key parts of the divorce, such as how you will handle your debt and who keeps the property. The sooner you run toward these hard conversations and determine these splits, the sooner you can get through this process.
Aside from divorce agreements, try your best to have a heart to heart that brings you closure in your relationship. You will be able to keep your sanity as you exit the marriage and will be emotionally prepared for the next stage of your life.
3. Set a Goal For the Divorce
What do you want to get out of your divorce?
Once you figure out what life after marriage looks like, you'll be able to pattern your divorce to find it. Whether this means a new one-bedroom apartment in a ritzy part of town, or holding on to property and assets you feel you're entitled to, it all starts with setting goals on the front end.
If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, come together and express the things that are most important to each of you. Put your emotions and pride to the side with each other to make it a win-win situation.
When you hold on to what's important, while conceding the other person's important wishes through compromise, the divorce process will be more seamless. If you don't feel like this is possible, definitely find legal meditation services.
By getting access to mediators, you'll have a third-party that will help you with each point until you find agreements that work.
4. Figure Out Your Child Situation ASAP
Without a doubt, taking care of your kids are the most important thing to consider if you are getting a divorce in Canada.
Your child needs both of you, so never come between that relationship despite the way your marriage ended. Getting joint custody means the two of you get plenty of time raising your kid and are cooperative as parents.
This should be the biggest priority with a divorce, since your child is the most innocent person in the whole equation. Set up agreements for school pickup and drop-off schedules, taking them to their activities and be sure that you're taking an active role in their personal life and education.
5. Watch How You Handle Money and Start Closing Accounts
You'll have some tough decisions to make with your finances.
The first thing you'll need to do is to close credit accounts that have both your names on it. A lot of spouses make spite purchases when emotions are high, so never get stuck with debt that you don't agree with.
Be sure that you open a new account that will help you to manage your spending and keep your personal finances separate.
6. Hire the Help of a Great Divorce Attorney
The best ally you will have during your divorce in Canada is a lawyer that is licensed to practice.
Your lawyer will guide you through the toughest parts of the process and will stay with you during the entire separation agreement. A quality attorney can help you to come up with a joint divorce filing whenever necessary.
This is best for you and your spouse, because it can cost you between about $1,000 and $2,500 if it's not contested, and $7,000 and more if your divorce is contested by your spouse.
7. Clear Your Mind and Stay Busy
Divorce can take its toll on your mind, body, and energy, so do what you can to find balance during this tough time.
Staying active and finding a support group will help you sort things out. Make sure that the activities that you choose help you move your body and clear your mind. You can practice yoga or meditate frequently to make sure your head is clear and that you are able to adapt to life's stresses.
It's also important that you stay organized so that you can find work-life balance. This includes keeping a schedule so that you don't miss or forget about your court hearings.
Take all the time to get back on your feet once your divorce goes through. This is an incredibly difficult time, so there's no right or wrong way to feel right now.
Following these tips will help you handle it in a way that counts.
Work Diligently For the Best Divorce in Canada
Divorce in Canada is especially difficult when you don't have a solid game plan. Thankfully, the tips above will get you started.
If you need any legal help during your divorce, contact our firm to speak to one of our attorneys.