Step-by-Step Process to File a Divorce in Ontario: A Comprehensive Guide

Divorce can be a difficult and emotionally draining process. To make it easier, this guide provides an in-depth step-by-step method to file for divorce in Ontario. The instructions cover everything from eligibility requirements up until the finalization of the procedure, arming you with knowledge so that informed decisions can be made throughout each stage of proceedings.


Short Summary

  • In Ontario, couples must meet residency and legal marriage requirements to be eligible for divorce.
  • There are several grounds for divorce in the province, including no-fault and fault-based options.
  • The court process requires filing an application with necessary documents, serving your spouse with papers, responding to a divorce application within 30/60 days (depending on location), attending steps such as first appearances & case conferences, reaching an agreement through negotiation or trial & obtaining a certificate of divorce from the court office.

Understanding Divorce Eligibility in Ontario

Before embarking on the divorce process, it is essential to be familiar with Ontario’s eligibility criteria. To commence proceedings for a divorce, couples must meet specific conditions including residing in Ontario and having been legally married. Religious divorces are not recognized by court systems within this province, the law applies so keep that in mind when considering filing.


If all requirements are met then you have to determine what grounds will constitute your rationale behind submitting for a divorce officially.


Residency Requirements

In order to begin divorce proceedings in Ontario, one or both spouses must have been a resident of the province for at least 12 months before submitting an application to the court. There are exceptions if neither party resides within Canada and/or their marriage is not recognized by the other country that they reside in. To prove legal recognition, you need to obtain evidence such as a valid marriage certificate from your government office before filing paperwork in court.


Legal Marriage

To be eligible to divorce in Ontario, it is a requirement for both you and your spouse to be legally married under the federal law of Canada with an official marriage certificate. Prior to filing paperwork for dissolution of the union, living separately must have been completed for at least 12 months. If these conditions are satisfied, then measures can be taken towards identifying reasons why this course should take place.

Grounds for Divorce in Ontario


In Ontario, a no-fault approach is taken to divorce proceedings. This means that factors such as adultery and cruelty are not considered when ruling on the application for divorce. Instead, if it can be established that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, this is an adequate cause to end the union through legal channels. Those looking into filing should make themselves aware of all applicable grounds for initiating a divorce case so they will know what evidence needs to be presented during their own hearing or appeal process.


No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce in Ontario is a type of dissolution where neither party holds the other party accountable for ending the marriage. This option becomes available to couples after they have been separated for one year, which makes it commonly used and uncontroversial across this region.


By opting out of assigning blame onto each other, no-fault divorces often provide an environment that encourages agreement between parties as both are on equal terms when working towards dissolving their relationship amicably.


Fault-Based Divorce

Divorce in Ontario is based on other grounds, although fault-based divorce is not applicable. Adultery and cruelty can be used as supporting evidence when seeking a divorce. Adultery is defined as an intimate relationship between one spouse and another individual outside their marriage while cruelty entails the mistreatment of one partner causing mental or physical pain for them.


It must be noted that these factors are significant indicators to help support your case, but will not affect the resolution of the matter itself directly.

Preparing Your Divorce Application

Once you have identified the reasons for your contested divorce, however, it is essential to put together a corresponding divorce application. There are various forms of applications in Ontario that include uncontested simple divorces, a joint and undisputed ones, as well as contested divorces with additional reliefs. The type chosen relies on each particular circumstance along with both parties’ level of agreement towards the matter.


Also, at this step, all required documents must be collected such as financial statements, marriage certificates, or any other relevant papers to back up your claim according to court demands. It’s important that once filing for a legal separation both spouses keep in mind terms like “joint” or “simple” when referring specifically to types of available conflict-free cases, but also reserve control over filings related either directly or indirectly to their upcoming case regarding official death records which may apply for a divorce, obviously only if needed by the respective law system depending upon territory where the process takes place.


Types of Applications

When making a divorce application in Ontario, there are three options available: General Divorce, Simple Divorce, and Joint Divorce. The type of process you choose is dependent on the level of consensus between you and your spouse as well as any other specific requests such as child custody rights or spousal support arrangements that may be necessary.


For Simple divorces, it’s mandatory to provide a copy of the document to both parties involved whereas if opting for Joint applications this isn’t required. Division of property can also form part of the requirements associated with an individual’s chosen divorce approach. Although not all situations require consideration upon completion, it does require consideration.


Gathering Required Documents

If you want to file for a divorce in Ontario, it is essential to gather all the necessary paperwork such as Form 8A (uncontested) or 8 (contested/with other claims). Make sure that your marriage certificate has been included. The completed forms will be used when submitting an application before the court. Accuracy must be ensured while signing these documents which are related to filing of divorce in order for everything to go smoothly without any issues regarding accuracy and genuineness following documents.

Filing Your Divorce Application

When it comes to filing a divorce application in Ontario, you’ll need to make sure that your paperwork is ready and the required supporting documents that are gathered. This step requires submitting the forms at the correct court, paying two installments of fees – $224 and $445 each – as well as adhering strictly to any applicable regulations or procedures set by said court.


Remember that if you’re divorcing in this Canadian province, an initial fee for processing will be asked: 669 dollars total, divided into these above-mentioned payments.


Court Fees

For divorces in Ontario, the court fees total $669 and must be paid in two parts – an initial payment of $224 when you submit your divorce application, followed by a payment of $445 once it is granted. Should paying these costs prove difficult for any individual case, completing a Fee Waiver Request Form may provide eligibility to waive them.


Court Locations

In Ontario, divorce applications must be presented to the municipal authority in which you, your partner, or your children reside. The Attorney General’s website provides a listing of all courts present within the province with information about their court clerks and file numbers from both Superior Court and its Family Court Branch for family issues such as this one. Both mentioned branches have respective services at Ontario Courthouse, give them your documents along with necessary paperwork and you should make it through without any problems!

Serving Your Spouse

When filing for a divorce, it is imperative to serve your spouse with the related papers unless both parties are submitting a joint application. This ensures that they know of any ongoing proceedings and can have an opportunity to respond.

In Ontario, this requires special service – either personally delivering them or sending them through the mail.


Special Service

In Ontario, when filing for divorce, serving the papers to your spouse requires special service. This can be done through various methods such as physical delivery or mailing with an Affidavit of Service filled out and signed in front of a commissioner if they are 18 years old or older. Electronic means is allowed so long as it meets the agreement between both parties involved or has been authorized by a judge.


Proof of Service

After the divorce papers have been delivered to your spouse, you must also provide proof of service by completing Form 6B: Affidavit of Service and submitting it at the court where you lodged your application. This form will be used as evidence that all necessary parties received notification of the documents in order for proceedings to go ahead smoothly.

Filing this document is a critical component within any divorce process, guaranteeing that everything runs according to plan with no misunderstandings or issues arising along the way.

Responding to a Divorce Application


If you are the respondent in a divorce application, within 30 days if located within Canada or the United States and 60 days outside these jurisdictions, there are several choices for responding – acknowledgment, answer or not responding at all. If your spouse does not contact you back accordingly, then it is possible to go ahead with a simplified dissolution of marriage that might exclude an appearance from either side before the court.


Timeframe for Response

When dealing with a divorce application in Ontario, it is essential that you adhere to the allotted timeframe for responding. If your residence falls within Canada or the United States, then you are given 30 days to do so. If living outside those jurisdictions, 60 days will be allowed. Failing to reply during this time can lead your partner towards obtaining an uncontested divorce, which might not ultimately benefit you as much as desired. The timely response should be ensured before proceeding down this route of action!


Completing Response Forms

When responding to a divorce application in Ontario, you must accurately fill out and submit the necessary forms like Form 10: Answer and Form 6B: Affidavit of Service. Then they have to be served according to court rules by either post or hand delivery or with the help of an authorised process server. It is important that all questions are answered appropriately along with any other documents that need attaching when submitting these response forms for divorce proceedings at court.

Navigating the Court Process


Going through a divorce in Ontario can be tricky, but with the right knowledge and guidance, you will manage it well. To progress throughout the legal process, there are various stages such as initial court visits, case conferences, and Mandatory Information Programs. Depending on what type of divorce is filed for (contested/uncontested), then mediation or trials may have to happen too so that all issues can get resolved amicably if they were not previously agreed upon by both parties beforehand.


First Appearances

The first court date for a divorce in the Ontario courts is an important stage, and it is your responsibility to arrange this initial appearance with the court clerk at the Superior Court of Justice. The judge and clerk will check that all relevant documentation has been filed at this time. Based on what pertains to your individual case, after hearing from both parties, the court can set out either a trial or case conference session on another specified day.


Case Conferences

A case conference involves the presence of both spouses, their lawyers, and a judicial officer. It aims to address contested issues without the need for a motion or trial by examining them together in an informal setting. The judge will give guidance on ways that could be used to bring closure between all parties over these matters. All those present listen closely so they can discuss possible resolutions available for consideration during this process.


Mandatory Information Program

The Mandatory Information Program (MIP) is an educational course intended to provide those involved in separation or divorce with the facts needed for making informed decisions during court proceedings. It can be accessed at all family courts across Ontario and its goal is to arm participants with knowledge about both separation/divorce laws as well as legal procedures related thereto. By offering this valuable information, MIP supports people attending these court sessions who have contested issues regarding their breakup.

Reaching a Divorce Agreement

When it comes to getting a divorce in Ontario, the process may involve negotiation, mediation or taking it all the way to court. The method of settling matters will be determined by how much agreement there is between you and your partner as well as other involved variables.


It’s essential for both parties to know their family law rights and duties prior so that they are aware of any agreements reached, ensuring everyone gets what’s best for them out of this situation.



When it comes to divorce in Ontario, negotiation is a key element in reaching an agreement. You and your partner should be able to work out matters such as child custody, spousal support, property division, or the amount of child support through effective communication. To ensure success in your negotiations, follow these steps: understand relevant family law and divorce laws, make sure you have all financial documents available, discuss topics openly with each other, document any consensus reached in a separation agreement or contract, and get counsel from lawyers before signing off on anything.



In Ontario, couples who are looking to get divorced have the option of using mediation as an alternative process. This often leads to a quicker and more economical result than taking it to trial in court. The mediator plays an impartial role. They will lead the dialogue but not impose any decisions on either party – helping them come up with solutions that both sides can be content with.


Mediation allows open communication between those divorcing so issues can be discussed productively rather than being adversarial in nature, leading to a satisfactory outcome for all involved.


Going to Trial

In cases where negotiation or mediation can not lead to a divorce agreement, a trial in court becomes necessary. Evidence and arguments from both parties are presented before the judge who then determines the contested issues. Going through this process usually takes longer than expected as well as being costly, so it is seen only when all other attempts at resolution have failed.

Finalizing Your Divorce

When all of the contested matters in a divorce have been sorted out, it is time to make your separation official. This requires you to obtain an order from the court that officially ends the marriage under terms specified by The Divorce Act. Once this decree has been issued and accepted, one can then receive a certificate declaring their union dissolved. All these steps are important for finalizing your divorce process completely.


Divorce Order

A divorce order is an official decree given by the court that states your divorce may be final after a month. To obtain this in Ontario, you need to file an application for dissolution of marriage at court and pay any related fees as well as abide by certain regulations laid out.


Once issued, both spouses can move forward with other marital steps such as divorce law remarriage since the decision from the judge legally puts their breakup into effect.


Certificate of Divorce

Once the divorce order is finalized, a certificate of divorce can be requested from the court where your case was heard. In Ontario, there’s a fee associated with obtaining this divorce certificate though – $25 to be exact.

The document functions as proof that all necessary legal steps have been completed for dissolving your original marriage certificate and also comes in handy if you plan on remarrying outside Canada.



The divorce process can be difficult and emotional, but familiarising yourself with the steps of filing for a divorce in Ontario will help make it easier. This guide offers detailed advice to ensure that both parties are well-prepared when making decisions about their future. Legal guidance is often beneficial too. Taking these precautions will guarantee the best possible resolution for everyone involved in this unfortunate situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to file for divorce in Ontario?

When filing for divorce in Ontario, a fee of $669 is required. This consists of an initial payment of $224 and the second installment when your case reaches its hearing stage – which amounts to another $445. An added cost should you decide to hire a lawyer specialising in such matters would be around $750 plus HST (harmonised sales tax).

Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce in Ontario?

Getting a divorce in Ontario does not legally require that one hire an attorney, and doing so can be quite advantageous. Having the assistance of legal counsel to ensure fair representation and protection of rights while also providing guidance through paperwork is beneficial during this process. A lawyer’s help makes sure all documents are filed correctly, thus making it possible for divorcing couples to get the most equitable settlement they possibly can.

What is the first step in getting a divorce in Canada?

From the province or territory that you live in, obtain the appropriate divorce application to initiate and go through with your decision to separate permanently from your spouse.

What are the eligibility requirements for filing a divorce in Ontario?

In Ontario, those who have been legally married must also be living in the province for a minimum of one year before filing for divorce.

What is the difference between a no-fault divorce and a fault-based divorce in Ontario?

When it comes to divorces in Ontario, a no-fault divorce does not require either partner to prove fault for the dissolution marriage breakdown of the marriage. On the other hand, if one spouse is assigning blame for the breakdown of their marriage, then they are likely seeking a fault-based divorce.

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