Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

The term “uncontested divorce” is one that is often bandied about quite casually, but is one that likely isn’t well understood by most people.

In Canada, the law sets out that you can only obtain a divorce if certain criteria are met, namely that the marriage between two people has broken down. By law, this is deemed to occur if:

  • You’ve lived apart from your spouse for 1 year with no intention of reconciling; or
  • You’ve not absolved your spouse from having committed adultery; or
  • You’ve received physically or mentally cruel treatment from your spouse, making living together intolerable. Cruelty may include acts of physical violence and those causing severe mental anguish.

However, in cases where you and your spouse are “on the same page” and do not dispute the need for a divorce, there is a relatively straightforward procedure in place for obtaining one (at least in comparison to situations where divorce is contested).

You simply must file an Application for Divorce with the court that is located in the municipality where either you or your spouse have lived for at least 1 year, or where your children reside if you are seeking to have custody or access settled as well.

You must file, serve and register this Application in accordance with certain rules, together with a filing fee and a copy of the marriage certificate or marriage registration certificate, if available. If the certificate is not available or is impractical to obtain, then you must include the reason in an affidavit that is filed alongside the other materials.
Any arrangements in connection with child support must be properly described, and they must conform to the Child Support Guidelines. Any prior court orders or domestic contracts that you or your spouse have obtained previously, relating to support, etc., must also be filed.

Finally, you and your spouse also must include a draft Divorce Order. This must include certain other documents in situations where child or spousal support is also being settled as part of the uncontested divorce.

Once all the documentation is in order, the court will issue a Divorce Order and send a copy to you and your spouse. The Divorce Order officially takes effect on the 31st day after the date it was granted by the court.

Seems easy, right? The process is certainly more streamlined than a contested divorce, but it still involves a lot of detail.