Separation & Divorce

Married couples seeking a divorce in Ontario are subject to the federal Divorce Act, which states that a court may grant a divorce to parties where there has been a “breakdown of the marriage.”

Unlike a separation agreement that can be finalized outside of court, only a court can grant a divorce. It is up to the parties filing their application for divorce to satisfy the court that there has been a breakdown of the marriage.

What is a divorce order?

A divorce order in Ontario is a formal document issued by the court, finalizing the dissolution of a marriage. It officially takes effect 31 days after the order is granted. Upon request, either the divorced individual or their former spouse can receive a certificate of divorce from the court, which serves as official proof of the divorce date.

According to the law, a breakdown is recognized where the parties have been separated for at least one year or where the party filing the application proves that their spouse has committed cruelty or adultery. In practice, the vast majority of couples rely on the one-year period of separation as the ground for divorce.

“No-Fault” Divorce in Ontario

What is no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce refers to the legal dissolution of a marriage without the need to prove any wrongdoing by either spouse. In simpler terms, it allows couples to end their marriage amicably and without placing blame on one another. This type of divorce recognizes that marriages can irretrievably break down due to various reasons, and it provides a more streamlined and less contentious process for couples seeking to end their union. Unlike traditional fault-based divorces that require proving specific grounds such as adultery or cruelty, a no-fault divorce focuses on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage itself, making it a more accessible and compassionate option for couples seeking a divorce.

Ontario family law utilizes a “no-fault” approach to divorce. Therefore, regardless of the reason for divorce, or whether or not the divorce was one person’s “fault,” the parties’ entitlement to property division, parenting decisions/time, and support is not affected.

Where there are no complex issues involved, a divorce application can take several months to finalize. However, the divorce will not be granted until the one-year period of separation has elapsed. Where there are more complex issues to be resolved, an experienced family lawyer can help guide you in the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

How We Help

At Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers, our lawyers and law clerks will help you during the divorce process by:

  • Determining your goals regarding the relevant issues in your case;
  • Explaining to you the legal implications of a divorce and the process involved;
  • Regularly corresponding with you to obtain updates and provide you with the status of your case;
  • Negotiating on your behalf with the other party or their lawyer;
  • Drafting your Separation Agreement to outline the terms of your separation, including how property and support issues will be addressed and what arrangements will be made for any children;
  • Drafting and reviewing the court documents on your behalf and meeting with you to review them;
  • Filing your application in court and representing you at every stage of the court process, in the event that contentious issues arise; and
  • Taking the necessary steps to enforce your agreement or court order.

We know that the breakdown of a relationship is a difficult time for all parties involved. Therefore, we strive to achieve a suitable resolution in a friendly and efficient manner.