Getting a Divorce?
Before you begin divorce proceedings, you may wish to consider
marriage counselling to assist you and your spouse in getting
back together. But even once you have started formal divorce
proceedings, you may stop the process at any time if you and
your spouse wish to consider reconciliation.
Who can apply for a divorce?
You can apply for a divorce if: you were legally married in
Canada or in any other country; you intend to separate permanently
from your spouse and believe there is no chance you will get
back together, or you have already left your spouse and do
not intend to get back together; and
if either or both of you have lived in a Canadian province
or territory for at least one year immediately before applying
for a divorce. You do not have to be a Canadian citizen to
apply for a divorce in Canada.
Do I need a reason to get a divorce?
To get a divorce, you will have to show that your marriage
has broken down. The law says marriage breakdown has occurred
if: you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for
one year with the idea that your marriage is over; or your
spouse has committed adultery (had sexual intercourse with
someone else) and you have not forgiven your spouse; or your
spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you, making
it unbearable to continue living together. Cruelty may include
acts of physical violence and those causing severe mental
anguish. You can get a divorce if one of these situations
applies to you. Over 80 percent of divorces in Canada are
based on one-year separation.
Do I have to prove that my spouse is responsible for
our marriage breakdown?
Under the Divorce Act, you do not need to prove that your
spouse was at fault in order to get a divorce. If the reason
you are asking for a divorce is marriage breakdown, shown
by one year of living apart, either of you can request a divorce.
It does not matter which one of you decided to leave. In fact,
the law gives you the choice of applying to the court together
to ask for a divorce. However, if the reason you are asking
for a divorce is marriage breakdown because of adultery or
mental or physical cruelty, you will have to have proof of
How do I start a divorce application?
It is always advisable when starting a divorce application
to speak to a lawyer knowledgeable about family law. A lawyer
can tell you exactly how the law applies to your situation
and how to protect your rights. You can then decide what to
do. To start a divorce application, you fill out the appropriate
forms for your province or territory. If you have a lawyer,
he or she will fill out the forms for you and will be responsible
for processing the divorce. You may obtain forms at government
bookstores, some private bookstores and, in some cases, via
the Internet. In some jurisdictions, court offices and family
law information centres provide forms.
There are a few things in particular that you have to include
in the forms. If there is a child of the marriage, you need
to write down the parenting arrangements, including financial
support. If these arrangements are in dispute, you will need
to describe the arrangements that you are seeking. Once you
have completed all the forms, you file them at the courthouse,
pay the required court fees, and follow the court rules and
procedures for your province or territory.
What if I apply for a divorce and then try to live
with my spouse again?
Before or after you have applied for a divorce on the ground
of one-year separation, you can live together for up to 90
days for the purposes of reconciliation. If things don't work
out, you can continue your action for a divorce as if you
had not spent this time together.