Divorce is expensive. Splitting your incomes, finding a new place to live, child support, spousal support – it all adds up fast. So if you’re trying to save some money in the process, you might be considering trying to get through your separation and divorce without hiring a lawyer.
It is true that a lawyer isn’t required to file for divorce in Ontario, and if you are separating amicably with no children and no major assets, this could be a perfectly straightforward option for you. However, if the situation is any more complicated than that, it’s best to at least consult with a lawyer before you move forward with the process.
Filing for Divorce in Ontario
If you’re ready to end your marriage, you’ll have to meet certain legal criteria in order to prove that your relationship is truly over. The most straightforward way to do this is to show that you and your ex have lived separately for at least twelve consecutive months. However, if you are splitting up because of adultery or abuse, this twelve-month separation period can be waived if you can show proof of what happened.
Once you’ve met these criteria, you’ll need to fill out a divorce application and file it at an Ontario courthouse along with the required fees. For the simplest divorces, meaning that you don’t require any court orders regarding asset division, child custody, or support payments, this is a straightforward process. The court will review your application and, if everything is in order, send you a copy of your divorce order. However, if there are any issues that you and your ex haven’t been able to agree on, things get more complicated.
Types of Divorces
Ontario law provides for many types of divorces, from a simple dissolution of the marriage to a more complicated court trial. Which option will work best for you depends on issues such as property, whether you have children, and whether either of you will owe spousal support. Again, if your situation is a simple one, it’s possible that you can get through your divorce without needing a lawyer.
- Uncontested divorce: This can be done when you don’t own much joint property and you don’t have children. When there isn’t much to disagree over, this is the simplest and most affordable option, as we described above.
- Collaborative team practice: A collaborative divorce is an option when the two of you are mostly in agreement regarding the terms of the divorce. You’ll each have your own lawyer, but the legal teams will work together instead of fighting each other. If there are just one or two points of contention, this can be a simple and cost-effective way to resolve any disagreements.
- Mediation and arbitration: This is the next step if you’re having more trouble coming to an agreement. Mediators and arbitrators cannot grant a divorce, but they can help the two of you draw up an agreement to present to the courts. Often, a neutral third party is a big help in finding common ground.
- Litigation: If you’ve exhausted all other options and cannot come to an agreement, even with mediation, the divorce will go to court. This is the most complicated and expensive way to go, which is why the divorce process in Ontario allows for so many opportunities to avoid it, and you will definitely need a lawyer if you end up going this route.
“DIY” Divorce Options
Obtaining legal advice for your separation and divorce is not an all-or-nothing situation. If you only need help on a couple of points, or just need some questions answered, that’s an option too! You can always go to a lawyer for just the assistance you need, rather than getting one to represent you through the entire process. These options include:
- Drafting a separation agreement
- Explanation of the family court process
- Completing your family court documents
- Advice on how to negotiate your separation agreement
- Explanation of your options regarding the separation and divorce process
- Attending a court motion or conference
Contact Galbraith Family Law for Help With Child Support Issues
There are plenty of situations where you might just need a lawyer for an hour or two, not for the whole process, and Galbraith Family Law is happy to do that for you. To get the answers you need, contact us and we will schedule a consultation. You can send a message through our website or give us a call. In Newmarket, our phone number is (289) 802-2433; in Barrie, call (705) 302-1102.