How long does it take to get a divorce?

The most common ground for divorce is that the spouses have lived separate and apart for one year. As such, it normally takes a little over a year to be divorced.

Sometimes, a divorce can be granted by the courts if less than one year has passed. Adultery or cruelty are grounds for a timely divorce, but are more difficult and perhaps costly than living separate and apart for one year as you will have to prove your case warrants the timely process.

How to Apply for a Divorce

Although you will have to apply to a court for a divorce, the process is not as difficult as it once was. Having a legal Separation Agreement obtained through the mediation process will make it much easier as you will apply for an uncontested divorce (as opposed to a contested process involving lawyers and the court process).

To file for divorce in Canada, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You and your spouse are legally married under the laws of Canada, or under the laws of another country and that marriage is recognized in Canada, and
  • Your marriage has broken down, and
  • You or your spouse lived in the Canadian province or territory where you apply for your divorce for a full year immediately before making an application.

How to Start a Divorce Application

Complete the following documents:

A continuing record cover sheet

  • This is the first page of your family law court file, which is called the continuing record. It will contain every document that you and your ex want the court to look at and it is kept at the courthouse.
  • Your divorce will happen through the municipality that you live in.
    In Niagara, you may choose:

  • At this point, you do not need a court file number because one will be assigned to you by the court.
  • You are the applicant, and your ex is the respondent.

A table of contents

  • This is a list that needs to be updated to include every form and document that you add to your court file.
  • Your first listed document is the application.
  • Enter the date you sign the document and the date you attend court to file the application there.

Form 8A: Application (for simple divorce)

  • Complete the relevant sections. Because you are only asking for a divorce, not all of the sections will apply to you.
  • Sign and date the form. Your ex does not need to sign the document.
  • Important: make a copy of the signed and dated application.

Note: There is a fee of $224 to start a simple divorce. This fee can be paid by cash, cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance.

File your documents at court

  1. Go to the Superior Court of Justice in the area that you live. See above for Niagara options.
  2. You will be given a copy of the application and, if you’re approved for one, a fee waiver certificate. Make sure you keep this in a safe place.

Serving your documents

Serving your documents means giving a copy of all the documents to your ex, who is known as the respondent.

This will include:

You cannot serve these documents yourself. You must have someone who is at least 18 years old—this could be a friend or family member or a professional server—hand deliver a copy to your ex.

Proof the documents were served

Whoever serves the documents will have to complete:

This form needs to be signed in front of a notary or a commissioner for taking affidavits. There is a fee for this service which varies by commissioner. If you need help finding a commissioner or notary to do this service, ask the court clerk for help. Your ex doesn’t need to sign anything.

The Form 6B must be filed in your continuing record at the courthouse.

Finalizing your simple divorce

Your ex has 30 days to respond from the day they were served the documents. Your ex doesn’t have to file an answer or sign anything. After the 30 days have passed, you can finalize your divorce.

Complete the following documents

  • Form 36A: Certificate of Clerk (Divorce)
    • This is a checklist of the clerk. Fill in what you can and the clerk will fill out the rest.
  • Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce
    • Attach your original marriage certificate.
    • The information on this form should match the information in your issued application.
    • Take some ID and the unsigned form to be signed in front of a notary or a commissioner for taking affidavits.
  • Form 25A: Divorce Order
    • This is a draft of the divorce order. This is what the judge has to sign.
    • Make three copies of this because one will be kept in your court file, another will be mailed to you and the third copy will be mailed to your ex.

File your documents at the court

  1. Bring a self-addressed stamped envelope for you and your ex so that the divorce orders can be mailed to you.
  2. Go to the same Superior Court of Justice courthouse that you originally went to and bring all the documents and the envelopes with you.

Note: There is a fee of $445 before the divorce is reviewed by the court. Court fees may be paid by cash, cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance.

When are you divorced?

Once you get your divorce order in the mail, your divorce takes effect on the 31st day after the divorced is signed by the judge.

After this, you can go back to the Superior Court of Justice and ask for your original marriage certificate and/or a certificate of divorce. There is a $25 fee for the certificate of divorce. You will need this certificate of divorce if you want to remarry.