If you are starting the process of separating from your spouse, you may be asking yourself, “What is an uncontested divorce?” An uncontested divorce is the alternative to going through a trial in court. This is the way most people end up getting divorced. In uncontested divorces, spouses must come to an agreement on all issues raised by the divorce. This means important decisions like how assets are split or how custody is managed must be made together and agreed upon in a separation agreement. An uncontested divorce is much less expensive than going to court and offers spouses the opportunity to end their marriage quietly and with dignity.
Unfortunately, due to disagreements and heightened emotions, many divorces begin with one spouse threatening a court battle and a separation agreement is only made after long and costly negotiations involving lawyers and mediators.
When is litigating the right decision?
While some people feel that they need to hire a lawyer in order to get a “fair deal”, in reality the Canadian government has set out clear and concrete guidelines for how divorce issues are resolved. Following the established guidelines and coming to an agreement on your own will result in essentially the same outcome as if you have a judge impose the guidelines on you after a lengthy court trial.
One of the most important things to remember is that unless you have an exceptionally complex case or have a spouse who is completely uncooperative, lawyers and mediators are not necessary to get a divorce.
How do I get an uncontested divorce in Ontario?
In order to qualify for an uncontested divorce in Ontario, you need to be able to come to an agreement with your spouse on all issues raised by divorce. This means you need to be able to communicate with your partner and maintain a healthy environment for negotiation. It is very important that both parties are clear and transparent about their individual situations, wants, and needs.
The government established guidelines for child support are absolute and it is not possible to deviate from the payment amount they calculate. While there are also government guidelines for determining spousal support and the division of assets that we recommend following, it is possible for divorcees to negotiate an agreement based on their specific situation. Many divorcees find that the best way to get past divorce is to avoid the emotional and financial cost of a court trial and come to an agreement with your spouse.
What are the steps?
An uncontested divorce in Ontario can be a simple and straightforward process that doesn’t need to involve mediators, lawyers, or anyone other than you, your spouse, and the court clerk. Anyone is entitled to file all the paperwork themselves without ever setting foot in a law office or in front of a judge. In order to complete an uncontested divorce in Ontario, there are three major steps to be completed.
- Live separate and apart for one year
To start the process, you need to begin living “ separate and apart” from your partner. While it is quite common for one person to move out of the shared dwelling for this period, it is not mandatory. As long as there is a separation of personal lives (sleeping in different rooms, eating separately, etc) the separation is valid.
- Get a separation agreement in place
You need to have all of the terms of your divorce agreed upon and documented in a separation agreement. This is the most important document in the entire process as it protects the rights and responsibilities of both parties post-divorce. This removes the need to hire lawyers, go to court, and have a judge decide your divorce for you.
- File the divorce application
You can file the divorce application after living separate and apart for a minimum of one year. This is the final step and completes the process. There are two different ways to file the application, simple or joint. A joint divorce application occurs when both parties file the application together. In an uncontested divorce, a simple divorce application means that one party will file the application and serve the necessary papers to the other.
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