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Requirements for getting a divorce in Ontario

When an Ontario person considers ending his or her marriage, it might be wise to explore the requirements prior to starting the process. The criteria that must be met before the court will grant a divorce include the need for the couple to have been married under Canada laws or those of another country -- as long as the marriage is recognised under Canada laws. One of the parties must have been residents of Ontario for at least 12 months before filing for divorce, and he or she must also show that there has been a breakdown of the marriage.

Under the Divorce Act of Canada, the breakdown of the marriage is typically the only ground needed for a divorce. Such a claim must be substantiated by proof that the couple has lived apart for at least one year or that the applicant has been the victim of physical or mental abuse by his or her spouse. Another reason that may validate a divorce application is a spouse's adultery.

Under certain circumstances, there might be exceptions to the residency rules. A couple who was married in Canada, relocated to another country, and now wants to end their marriage may apply for a divorce in Canada if their new country of residence does not recognise their Canadian marriage. In such a case, the application must be filed in the province or territory where the marriage took place. The marriage will be ended under the Civil Marriages Act and will not address other issues such as child support, access, spousal support or property division.

An Ontario couple who files for divorce on the one-year separation requirement may benefit by consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer. The law allows a reconciliation period of up to three months during that year of separation without affecting the length of the separation period if the parties do not reconcile. A family law attorney can answer any other questions about the legal requirements and proceedings regarding a divorce. Exploring the options of mediation or collaboration might also be beneficial if the parties are looking to avoid litigation.

Source:, "How to Apply for a Divorce", June 29, 2017

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