Divorce and Separation
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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.
- 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
- Family Law Information (Community Legal Education Ontario)
- Information about many family law issues, including divorce, custody, support, and property division.
- 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.
- Steps to Justice (Community Legal Education Ontario)
- A website that gives reliable, step-by-step information about common legal problems, including family law issues. Visit the website for information about custody, support, and property division, as well as going to court and resolving issues through alternative dispute resolution. Steps to Justice also has a live chat function to help users find the information they need.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- How to get a copy of a Divorce Order, Certificate of Divorce or other court document
- Court locations and addresses across Ontario
Completing Court Forms
Family court forms are available at: www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/english/family
- Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms
- If you need help completing your family court forms, you can use the Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms, a free online tool developed by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) and the Ministry of the Attorney General. The tool asks you questions and puts your answers into the required court forms. When you’re finished, you can save or print your completed forms before filing them in-person at the courthouse or online using the Family Claims Online service.
You can also find more information about family law on CLEO’s Steps to Justice website.
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