Understanding the Difference Between Contested vs Uncontested Divorce in Ontario

Nov 18, 2016
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When you’re going through what can be a gut-wrenching, agonizing process, you probably don’t care to differentiate between a contested vs. an uncontested divorce. However, there’s an important difference between the two. Read on to learn how a contested divorce differs from an uncontested divorce in Ontario.

How Divorce Works in Ontario

Divorce is the legal process that ends a marriage. This process enables you to legally marry again. You file an application in court to divorce your spouse. That way, the court has the application on record, so if you do want to remarry, you can prove that your first marriage has ended.

Sometimes, both spouses want to end a marriage. That’s known as a joint divorce application. In this case, you would file a simple divorce if:

  • You don’t have any kids
  • You don’t have any property or assets to divide, or
  • You’ve already agreed upon how to split it up

So, what happens if one spouse wants to end a marriage? There are two options. The first option is that your spouse doesn’t respond to the application for a divorce. In legal terms, a “response” is when the other party (in this case, your soon-to-be ex-spouse) takes you to court over the issue. When your spouse doesn’t respond in court, the legal system takes that to mean that your spouse has accepted the divorce application and is willing to go through with it, even if you didn’t file a joint application. That situation is an uncontested divorce.

The other option is that your partner receives the application and doesn’t agree with what you’re asking for in the request for a divorce. That’s known as a contested divorce.

What Does a Contested Divorce Look Like?

We’ll use an example to illustrate what a contested divorce would look like.

After years of living on a prayer with Tommy, Gina realizes they’ll never make it more than halfway there. So, she files for divorce.

In her application, Gina asks for sole custody of the kids. When Tommy receives the application, he’s upset. He wants joint custody. Tommy hires a lawyer and takes Gina to court.

The Advantages of an Uncontested Divorce

Let’s say that ultimately, Tommy receives joint custody of the kids. He and his lawyer are glad that the case was successful, but it took a toll. His legal bills weren’t cheap, and his occasional music gigs aren’t enough to cover his expenses.

If Tommy had sat down with Gina at the outset and discussed the issues instead of contesting the divorce, he would have saved himself and Gina a great deal of money. He might have discovered Gina would have been willing to negotiate. Now, Gina is just resentful that Tommy’s decision to contest the divorce cost her a great deal of money, and her waitressing job doesn’t pay much. She’s less likely to be cooperative about making decisions regarding the children’s well-being.

Turn to a Family Law Expert for Assistance with Contested and Uncontested Divorces

It doesn’t matter whether you’re going through a contested or uncontested divorce – an experienced family lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of dissolving a marriage. They can also help you resolve issues to keep costs down and tempers even.

Galbraith Family Law lawyers are trained in Collaborative Practice, and we have been named the top firm by the Barrie Examiner multiple times. Our legal insights have also been featured in the Globe and Mail, as well as Lawyers Weekly.

Click here to contact us, or to schedule a consultation. Or you can call the local office listed at the top of the page.

About Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.