Joint Divorce in Ontario

A joint divorce in Ontario is when both parties agree to a divorce and are working together to create a mutually-agreeable settlement. Although divorce is often portrayed as a process that is fraught with conflict and emotional retaliation, the reality is that most couples are in agreement that divorce is the best option for them going forward.

Entering a joint divorce in Ontario does not necessarily mean both parties agree on everything, either. Some joint divorces involve mediators and family lawyers. In addition, a joint divorce helps to establish intent. In deciding on what the settlement looks like, various issues come up, such as division of property, applicable child or spousal support, parenting responsibilities and child custody, and financial details.

How to file a joint divorce in Ontario is fairly straightforward. It can be done fairly efficiently and affordably and is a preferred option for most couples looking to avoid a costly and lengthy legal battle that can often do more harm than good. To move forward with a joint divorce, both couples must be in agreement about the terms of a divorce, with resolution on all outstanding issues. An agreement is authored and signed, and then a joint divorce application is submitted to the courts. Within a few months, a divorce order is granted, and it goes into effect within a specified time.

What Are the Benefits of Filing a Joint Divorce in Ontario?

The list of benefits to filing a joint divorce in Ontario is lengthy and rightfully so for divorcing couples. You avoid unnecessary conflict and trauma, which is particularly advantageous if there are children involved. It’s a lot less stressful for the adults involved as well. As you work towards creating a settlement agreement, the communications can be constructive and more productive in a way that a contested divorce may not be. In general, this equates to more compliance and fewer arguments around the terms of the divorce.

Above all else, many couples go the route of filing a joint divorce in Ontario because there’s a lot less cost involved. So long as you can resolve most of or all of your issues before you meet with a family lawyer to draft the agreement, you minimize the expenses of a divorce in a big way. Of course, each spouse can still seek independent legal advice on how to structure this settlement agreement; however, it is nothing like hiring a divorce lawyer each to be adversaries in negotiations. A joint divorce does not come with extensive wait times, long negotiations, courthouse meetings, or a divorce trial. It’s fast. It’s easy. It saves you a lot of money.

What Is the Criteria for You to Use A Joint Divorce Process?

In order to proceed with a joint divorce, you must fall into the following.

  1. One of the parties must be a resident of Ontario for at least one (1) year prior to filing a joint divorce.
  2. The parties must have been living separately or apart for at least one (1) year prior to the divorce judgment being executed. This is a requirement and the only way in which a joint divorce is allowed to proceed. Please note if the grounds for divorce are cruelty or infidelity, the process of being granted a joint divorce will not be granted. Instead, a couple must file for an uncontested divorce which is entirely different from an application for joint divorce.

Please note, regarding the second criteria point, ‘separation’ does not necessitate you and your spouse to live in separate properties. You are permitted to continue living in the same house and still live separately under the Divorce Act standards.

Steps to Take for Filing a Joint Divorce Application in Ontario

Please note: Throughout the joint divorce application process, please list your first, middle, and last names exactly as they appear in your Marriage Certificate or Marriage Registration Certificate. If any name is different today than as it appears on your Marriage Certificate, you will have to provide a reason for the difference using ‘Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce’.

  • Step 1. Choose the right court. Not every court is a family law court. You have to find a Superior Court of Justice or Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice, and you must file in the municipality where either you or your spouse lives. In certain circumstances, you may be eligible to file a divorce application online without having to visit a courthouse.
  • Step 2. File your documents and pay the filing fees. To file a joint divorce, one must fully complete, and both spouses must sign Form 8A: Application (Divorce) and Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce. In addition, the Original Marriage Certificate must be completed separately by you and your spouse. The Original Marriage Certificate or a Marriage Registration Certification must be submitted alongside any other forms for court orders other than a divorce and a typed Form 25A: Divorce Order. The filing fees totalling $632.00 are also paid at this time.
  • Step 3. A judge reviews your application. After the court receives the documents and filing fees, a Clearance Certificate is generated from the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings. This is handed off to a judge. It is a judge’s decision as to whether divorce is granted or not. If information is missing, you will be directed to provide said information before the divorce can be granted. If what you’ve submitted is sufficient, a judge grants the divorce and a copy of the Divorce Order is sent to each spouse in the mail.
  • Step 4. Obtain your Certificate of Divorce. This is optional. In certain cases, you may require a Certificate of Divorce. This can be obtained by visiting the court office where your Divorce Order was made and by paying another fee, this time of $24.00. If you cannot get to the court office yourself, you may write to them you’re your request, or someone may go on your behalf.

Additional Information

  • A divorce will not be granted until a Marriage Certificate is registered with your application. If you do not have the original, you can obtain a copy from ServiceOntario or the Registrar of Ontario.
  • If you were married outside of Ontario and you do not have the marriage certificate, you can similarly order a copy there.
  • If your spouse has deceased, you are required to provide proof of the death of your spouse in the form of a government-approved document.
  • The court filing fees are a requirement under the Administration of Justice Act and have to be paid in full or documents will not be accepted.
  • You can retain a lawyer throughout this process.

How Long Does a Joint Divorce Take?

A joint divorce application is processed based on the time available to the court. Understandably, this will depend on caseload and varies per court. In the majority of Ontario family courts, a divorce is granted within 90 days of receiving the joint application; however, some cases can take several months. Once a divorce is granted, it is then only official after 31 days.

Once the divorce is finalized and the 31-day wait time has passed, you are officially divorced and can apply to the court for a Divorce Certificate. Please note that these certificates cannot be applied for in advance. This certificate is required should a person who is divorced want to get remarried. For most people, having a Divorce Certificate in their ownership is important. The good thing is that they can be applied for at any time and are not legally necessary unless there is a specific reason.

Why is it Helpful to Have a Lawyer Help You Go Through Divorce Process

Although you will be applying for a joint divorce, you may still want a family lawyer to help you. Many divorce lawyers offer free consultations and/or are willing to look at your unique circumstances and help provide insight on your rights and options. In addition, a lawyer in divorce in Ontario will ensure that you are fully aware of the consequences of your legal actions and can advocate on your behalf should there be any issue in the joint divorce application process. If you are in need of a divorce lawyer in Ontario to help with your joint divorce, contact a representative at Simple Divorce today.