Divorce and Separation

Text size: larger | smaller

Please note: the page will print without the top and left navigation bars and in black and white only.

Separation agreements and court orders can resolve some family matters when you separate but they do not legally end your marriage. The only way to legally end your marriage is to get a divorce. The following links will help you find more information about divorce law and procedure.

New: Applications for divorce under the federal Civil Marriage Act for non-residents married in Ontario now accepted at SCJ family counters. Learn more

Getting Started

What You Should Know about Family Law in Ontario (available in 9 languages)
Covers many aspects of divorce and separation, including mediation, choosing a lawyer, going to court, your rights and obligations
Family Law Information Centres (FLICs)
An area in each family courthouse where you can receive free information about divorce, separation and related family law issues (child custody, access, support, property division and child protection) and referrals to community resources. Each FLIC has a variety of publications available addressing these issues, as well as guides to court procedures. Staff and Advice Lawyers are also available at designated hours
Getting Divorced (Community Legal Education Ontario)
A brochure that provides information about legally ending a marriage in Ontario.
Resource List
Extensive list of books and websites for adults and children covering separation and divorce, parenting, emotional and financial issues. Includes age appropriate reading suggestions and interactive websites.
Your Legal Rights (Community Legal Education Ontario)
A website with practical, easy to find legal information on a variety of topics.
Family Law Information Program (Legal Aid Ontario)
Legal and practical information on family law topics in an easy to follow format.
Helping Children Cope with Separation and Divorce (Canadian Paediatric Society)
Information on how to help your children at the time of separation.

Settling out of court

Using a lawyer
Mediation
The mediator, a neutral third party, can help you reach an agreement on a variety of issues, including support payments, the division of property, and child custody and access. Mediators, unlike judges or arbitrators, do not decide cases or impose settlements
Arbitration
Arbitrators, like mediators, are neutral third parties. However, unlike mediation, parties who wish to arbitrate must agree to be bound by the decision made by the arbitrator
Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative lawyers assist parties in negotiating a resolution of their dispute(s) in a principled and respectful fashion without going to court. Both parties and their lawyers sign a contract committing to this process in advance

Going to court

If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to resolve your family law issues, you can go to court and ask a judge to decide for you. If you are married, you will need to apply to a court to obtain a divorce order in order to end your marriage

Understanding the family court system in Ontario
Guide to Procedures in Family Court
This guide provides steps to follow when going to court, including which forms must be completed, procedures when attending court and how to take steps in court cases.
Completing Court Forms
Family court forms are available at: www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/english/family
You can also visit the Ministry’s Forms Assistant for help completing the most common family court forms.
How to get a copy of a Divorce Order, Certificate of Divorce or other court document
Court locations and addresses across Ontario

Separation and children

Custody and access
When you separate or divorce, you must arrange for the care of your children. This includes where they will live and how important decisions about them will be made
Child support
Both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children. If you do not have custody, the amount of child support you must pay is based on your income and the number of children you must support
Caring for children
Looking after children during or after a separation can be difficult. Here are some links to information that may help
Supervised access to children
Where there are concerns for the safety of the children and/or a parent, a court can require that visits with children be supervised. The parents can also agree upon supervised visits without a court order
Child Protection
When concerns are raised about a family's ability to care for a child, a child protection agency may take steps to investigate the care the child is receiving and potentially to remove a child from his or her home

Other Financial Issues

Spousal support
Learn how claims for spousal support are addressed, including the advisory spousal support guidelines
Division of Property
How property, including the home where you and your spouse live, is divided when a marriage ends, including a description of the equalization of net family property rules

More Resources