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Frequently Asked Questions – Divorce – general

November 4, 2012

Disclaimer:

Please note that this is not a legal text and will not give you legal advice. These “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) will give you general legal information. To get legal advice regarding a family law issue, you would have to speak with a lawyer who practices family law.

Links to other websites are provided solely for your convenience. The Department of Justice Canada is not responsible for the information you may find on any other site.

Divorce – General

  1. What is a divorce?
  2. How do I get a divorce in Canada?
  3. How can I show that my marriage has broken down?
  4. Can I obtain a divorce in Canada if I or my spouse lives in another country?
  5. If I got my divorce in another country, would it be recognized in Canada?
  6. Can I represent myself in family court?
  7. What resources are available to help me with my divorce, other than legal advice from a family law lawyer?
  8. How do I find out whether my spouse has filed for a divorce?
  9. I need a copy of my divorce papers or certificate. Can I get this from the Registry?
  10. If I sponsored my spouse to come to Canada, do my sponsorship obligations continue if we separate or divorce?
  11. If my spouse sponsored me to come to Canada, will I be allowed to stay in Canada if we separate or divorce?
1. What is a divorce?
A divorce is the legal process to end a marriage. Only married couples can get a divorce. Once the process is finished, a court will issue a document to show that you and your spouse are no longer married.

2. How do I get a divorce in Canada?
You need to apply to a court for your divorce. The Divorce Act is a federal law but the provinces and territories are responsible for the court system and court processes, so application forms and procedures vary from one province or territory to another. Information on how to apply for a divorce in your province or territory may be available from your provincial or territorial Ministry of Justice or Attorney General, a court, a family law lawyer or a family law information centre.

Note that under the Divorce Act, a court in a province or territory can grant a divorce only if you meet the following three conditions:

  • You and/or your spouse’s main home base was in that province or territory for the full year (12 months) immediately before the application was made; and
  • the marriage has broken down (see the next FAQ for information on how to show that a marriage has broken down); and
  • the court is satisfied that reasonable child support arrangements have been made for any children of the marriage.

Your province or territory may have family justice services such as mediation or parenting education to help you and your spouse work out arrangements for you and your children. If you cannot agree, you can ask the court to decide. Going to court is very costly and can add to the stress of a separation or divorce. Some provinces and territories require divorcing and separating couples to explore other means of resolving issues before going to court.

3. How can I show that my marriage has broken down?
Under the Divorce Act, you can show that your marriage has broken down in one of three ways:

  • you and your spouse have been living apart for one year or more with no intention of getting back together; or
  • your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you, making it intolerable to continue living together; or
  • your spouse has committed adultery.
4. Can I obtain a divorce in Canada if I or my spouse lives in another country?
Yes, but only if at least one of you lived in a Canadian province or territory for a full year immediately before applying for a divorce in that province or territory. If neither of you lived in a Canadian province or territory for at least a year in the immediate past, you cannot get a divorce in Canada.

5. If I got my divorce in another country, would it be recognized in Canada?
Canada generally recognizes a divorce from another country if:

  • the divorce was valid under the laws of that country; and
  • one or both spouses had been living in that country for a full year immediately before applying for the divorce.

There may also be other grounds to have your divorce recognized in Canada. You may wish to seek legal advice if you are not sure whether your divorce would be recognized in Canada.

6. Can I represent myself in family court?
Yes, but it is strongly advised that you talk to a family law lawyer before making any decisions to represent yourself, even if it is only for one session, to discuss how complex your case may be. If you decide to represent yourself, you need to understand the laws that apply to you. You also need to understand court procedures in your province or territory. These are issues that a family law lawyer can help you with.

Your province or territory may have a lawyer referral service that can refer you to a family law lawyer who will offer the first half-hour consultation for free or at a reduced rate.

Your province or territory may also have family justice services such as mediation that can help you and your spouse work out some issues before you go to court. This could save you money, time and stress. Information specifically for people who want to represent themselves may also be available from a court or a family law information centre in your area.

7. What resources are available to help me with my divorce, other than legal advice from a family law lawyer?
The provinces and territories offer a variety of family justice services, such as mediation, parent education or counselling, that you may find useful. Some services are listed in the Inventory of Government-Based Family Justice Services. You might find other useful services on the website of your provincial or territorial government. Information may also be available from a court or a family law information centre in your area.

There may also be local organizations in the private sector that offer similar services. These may be listed in the yellow pages of your telephone book.

You may also find it helpful to consult with an income-tax specialist or accountant for advice on the financial aspects of separation or divorce. And, Canada Revenue Agency’s website may have helpful information about the tax consequences of divorce, including how it may affect your eligibility for specific credits and benefits.

8. How do I find out whether my spouse has filed for a divorce?
Courts across Canada are required to notify the Registry about all divorce applications that have been filed with them. You may contact the Registry for information by calling 613-957-4519 or by writing to:

Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings
Family Law Assistance Services
Department of Justice Canada
P.O. 2730, Postal Station “D”
Ottawa, ON K1P 5W7

To assist you, the Registry will need any information to help find the correct file, including the full name and date of birth for both you and your spouse and the date you married. If you request is in writing, please make sure that include the information mentioned above.

9. I need a copy of my divorce papers or certificate. Can I get this from the Registry?
The Registry cannot provide copies of divorce papers. To get copies of divorce papers, you would need to contact the court that processed the divorce. If you are not sure which court processed the divorce, the Registry may assist you by telling you which court processed the divorce and by providing you with a file reference number that may help the court find the correct file more quickly. To assist you, the Registry will need your and your spouse’s full names and dates of birth and the date you married.

10. If I sponsored my spouse to come to Canada, do my sponsorship obligations continue if we separate or divorce?
If you have sponsored someone to come to Canada as your spouse, the sponsorship undertaking that you would have signed remains in effect for three years after the person becomes a permanent resident, even if you may have separated or divorced during that period. You are responsible for the basic needs of your sponsored spouse throughout the duration of the sponsorship undertaking.

More information on sponsoring a spouse can be found on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.

11. If my spouse sponsored me to come to Canada, will I be allowed to stay in Canada if we separate or divorce?
Under current immigration provisions, once you have been granted permanent residence in Canada, you are allowed to stay in Canada even if you separate or divorce.

The government is considering some changes to requirements for persons who are in recent relationships and are seeking entry to Canada as a sponsored spouse. Information on a possible conditional permanent residence measure may be found on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.

 

Source:http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/fcy-fea/faq/div.html

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