There are only three reasons why a judge cannot grant a divorce alone (leaving support, property and other claims to separate orders that can be made later). Neither of those three reasons relates to whether both spouses want the divorce. Those two reasons are:

  1. Any children are not being adequately supported financially. If there are children involved, section 11(1) of the Divorce Act mandates that there be adequate provision for them in place before a divorce will be granted. What that means, in the light of the Child Support Guidelines, is that the support must be either in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines or must be more than under the Guidelines, although the arrangements can be different. No matter the grounds for divorce or the method used to get a divorce, there must be satisfactory child support arrangements in place before a judge will grant the divorce.
  2. The spouse requesting the divorce is not removing religious barriers to remarriage. All a divorce order means is that the spouses are legally able to re-marry. But, the law does not mean the spouses can re-marry in their religion. A judge can deny a divorce to someone who is effectively preventing his or her ex spouse from remarrying by using his or her religion. Section 21.1 of the Divorce Act requires that a spouse who wants a divorce must file an affidavit saying that spouse has removed any religious barrier to remarriage that are within that spouse’s control. If the other spouse files an affidavit saying that is not true, that blocks the divorce. Obviously, there would be trouble for a spouse who files a false affidavit for any purpose.
  3. At least one of the spouses must have lived in the jurisdiction for at least a year to get a divorce in Canada.   People cannot just come to Canada for their divorce.   However, if neither party has lived in the jurisdiction of the Court for at least one year, then the Court probably will not even accept the Divorce Application.

Judges can also refuse to grant a divorce if the judge believes there has been “collusion” or “connivance” by the spouses – essentially the spouses are working together to get a divorce improperly. However, these are not things a spouse could raise to block a divorce.

If a judge is satisfied that the grounds for divorce exist and adequate provision for any children has been made, they will grant a divorce judgment. Once thirty days has elapsed from the date of judgment, the spouses will be legally divorced.

John P. Schuman
Devry Smith Frank LLP

John is a Certified Specialist in Family Law. To learn more about John please click


12 Responses to “Could a judge ever refuse my divorce?”

  1. Christina

    A guy I’ve been dating has been trying to get a divorce for ten years . Has been in front of a judge 4 times all women judge’s he keeps getting denied. And she had an affair on him twice. But how can the judges denied him everytime, he raised and paid child support until they completed college which he also paid for. The kids are married on there own how can he keep having to go through this? What are his other options?

  2. Anonymous

    hi my name is danny the judge refuses to give me a divorce because I did not have legal representation we agreed on division of assests and he still refuses he says I need a lawyer because I agreed to give my wife full property and handed over 100% of my pension what gives him the right to refuse?

  3. John adams

    can my ex get a divorce without my knowledge? we’ve been apart more than a year and live in separate towns. also we signed a separation agreement in the beginning with no witnesses or lawyers advice , does it still stand? thanks

  4. Anonymous

    I don’t want a divorce. My husband does. He filed for no fault divorce. I will get spousal and child support in meantime, he’s mad about that. I am disabled and both my adult kids are disabled and we have guardianship. He thought since adults he didn’t have to pay but guardianship said ‘ financially responsible ‘ in it. I warned him but his attorney misinformed him.
    He is basically tired of money problems. I don’t think you throw away 30 years of marriage because you’re poor. I want the judge to say no. Go to therapy, marriage counseling first. At least try to work through.
    Anyone know how to keep the divorce from going through?
    I have attorney but was looking for precedent on this to reassure myself.
    I know he thought when we were first married we’d have kids they’d graduate marry etc. we’d go travel in our old age. not have to take care of the kids forever. I’m sorry I never said hey god give me 2 special needs kids to make my husband miserable. Oh and give Me RSD so it’s not curable. And make sure I get tens of thousands in medical expenses from almost dying last year …all just to make my husband miserable. Yeah right! I did all this on purpose from the way he puts it. Now he wants a divorce. I probably only have a few years left to live anyway. Can’t he just wait till I die and leave me a little dignity!

  5. Kenny Derrick

    I live in Ohio, USA and it is near the end of a divorce from my wife, in short…. I became ill , she decided she wanted to move on with her live with another healthy man. We took a covenant with each other and God , richer/poorer. And sickness/health , 38 years ago . can I prevent the divorce based on our religious commitment.

  6. Sarah K

    My husband filed for divorce and I am defaulting on it because I love him enough to give him what he wants. We still live together and were peaceful until I became pregnant with his child and decided I wanted to keep it. Now he is stressing me to leave the apartment and does not want to be in the childs life in any way shape or form. I will not force him. I will do it on my own. If a judge would find out, will that hurt his chances for the divorce? Should I keep it secret if it does? Should I say anything if it does not? What can happen in this kind of situation?

  7. Rihanna

    Hello, my current boyfriend is separated from his wife but they are still legally married. They both originally lived in Vancouver, but he ended up moving to Saskatchewan. He told me that his wife had filed for divorce but he is not 100% sure about that, he hasn’t heard much from her about the divorce. The wife has gotten herself in some legal trouble, so he’s afraid that she may leave the country without completing following through with the divorce. If she were to leave the country could he proceed with the divorce without her, or is he able to file for divorce without her signature? Does he a need a lawyer? they did agree for a mutual divorce but the paper work has really gotten for far? And how long does it typically take to get divorced?

  8. Rachell Ochoa

    Hello, My husband lost his father last April and since then he has been acting strange, we have been married for 15 yrs., with problems but we had survive them, out of the sudden his mother request of him to move with her as it was his father last wish, he left me Sep 01,2019 with a new rental lease that I cant afford, with all the debt of the funeral and some acquired during our marriage and is now having an affair, his whole family stop talking to me and he send a letter to the landlord requesting for him name to be taking out of the lease in which I refuse since I had ask before and my husband refused to cancel the lease. He has taking me out of his insurance as well as blocking me from his phone etc. He said since we did not have any kids and we don’t own a house (due to his many DUI) he is not responsible at all in helping me in any of this situation. Can he get a divorce without my consent and what are my legal right if any?

  9. Anonymous

    My husband and I have been separated for a year now. I left because I couldn’t take anymore. There was emotional, mental, and physical abuse. The last straw was my rotator cuff being torn. He’s a good man, he just has a problem. Will the judge start our year over because it was legal or because my husband says I abandoned him?

  10. James Wilder

    Thank you for your insightful blog post discussing the complexities of one-sided divorce in Canada. Your detailed examination of the legal aspects and the potential challenges faced by individuals involved in such cases was informative. For those seeking a deeper understanding, I agree that a specialized article on one-sided divorce in Canada, as you suggested, would serve as an invaluable resource, offering in-depth insights and guidance on this complex issue.


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