How Do I Get Divorced
The only way to get divorced in Canada is by a court order, and to get a court order you have to start a court proceeding. (Only married spouses need to get divorced; the relationships of unmarried spouses are over when they separate.)
You must have lived in the province in which you are starting the court proceeding for at least one year before you can get started, and you must start your court proceeding in the Supreme Court.
The court proceeding can include claims beside a divorce order; typically people also ask for orders about the care of children, the payment of child support and spousal support, and the division of property and debt.
However, you'll be in for a fight if you and your spouse don't agree about the orders the court should make. This discussion assumes that the only order anyone is asking for is a divorce order.
|JUS 280||Registration of Divorce Proceedings (Form)|
|Form F3||Notice of Family Claim||DOC||HTML||PDF (annotated) DOC (fillable)|
|Form F1||Notice of Joint Family Claim||DOC||HTML||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F15||Affidavit of Personal Service||DOC||HTML||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F35||Requisition (Divorce)||Multi||HTML||Multi||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F17||Requisition (General)||Multi||HTML||Multi||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F38||Affidavit - Desk Order Divorce||HTML||Multi||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F37||Child Support Affidavit||Multi||HTML||Multi||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F36||Certificate of Pleadings||Multi||HTML||Multi||DOC (fillable)|
|Form F52||Final Order||HTML||DOC (fillable)|
Begin the court proceeding
You will need to file a Notice of Family Claim in Form F3, and attach Schedule 1. Schedule 1 gives the court the information it needs to make the divorce order. (A special Notice of Joint Family Claim in Form F1 is used when a couple is asking for the divorce together.) There is a $210 filing fee.
You will be required to file an original copy of your marriage certificate with your Notice of Family Claim. This is the ugly brown document you got from the government, not the flowery thing you received from your officiant.
You will also be required to fill out a Registration of Divorce Proceeding form. This form must be completed using the online form, printed off (do not complete it by hand), and submitted to the court registry with your Notice of Family Claim. The court staff will send this document off to the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings in Ottawa.
Serve your spouse
Next, have your spouse personally served with a copy of the filed Notice of Family Claim. You can't do this yourself; you must get someone to do it for you. Your process server will need to swear an Affidavit of Personal Service in Form F15 to prove that service was done and when it was done. (Couples who are filing the Joint Notice of Family Claim together don't need to have anyone served.)
Your spouse has 30 days to defend your claim. What you hope is that your spouse won't file a Response to Family Claim or Counterclaim, because if this happens you're going to have to settle your differences or deal with a trial. (Couples who are filing the Joint Notice of Family Claim together don't need to wait.)
Apply for the divorce order
Once the 30 days are up, you will need to pay an $80 fee and file the following documents:
- a Requisition in Form F35 asking for the divorce order,
- a Requisition in Form F17 asking the court staff to search for a Response to Family Claim or Counterclaim,
- the Affidavit of Personal Service your process server prepared,
- a special affidavit in Form F38 giving the court the evidence it needs to make the divorce order,
- if there are children, a Child Support Affidavit in Form F37 giving the court the evidence it needs to conclude that appropriate arrangements have been made for the support of the children,
- a blank Registrar's Certificate in Form F36, and
- a draft divorce order in Form F52.
(Couples who are filing the Joint Notice of Family Claim together can file these documents, without the Affidavit of Personal Service, as soon as they've filed their Notice of Family Claim.)
It can take anywhere from 60 to 120 days for the court staff and a judge to process your divorce application. Start calling the court registry at the 60-day mark to see if your order is ready.
Pick up your divorce order
When your order is ready, head down to the court registry and pick it up. You must then send a copy of the order to your spouse. Congratulations! 31 days from the date the order is made, you'll be divorced.
For more information
A much more detailed description of the divorce process, complete with blank court forms and examples of what they look like when they're filled out properly is available in chapter Separation & Divorce within the section Divorce.
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Vanessa Van Sickle, June 26, 2017.|
|JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|