Divorce in Ontario

Divorce in Your Province

Fairway Solutions

We have two offices in your province and offer remote mediation across Ontario.

General

If you’re facing separation and divorce, you will have a lot of questions. Fairway has guided clients through this pivotal life change since 2006, so our mediation experts have many of the answers. Below you’ll find resources and information for commonly asked questions, explanations of terms and documents you should know, and insight into what to expect during the separation and divorce process. If you still have questions or want to request a consultation with our mediators select the office closest to your home.

What do I need to do before I can file for Divorce?

A separation agreement usually accompanies a divorce application. While it is possible to apply for divorce before you have a signed separation agreement, it is not common unless there are no assets or children. The separation agreement is the agreement that captures all the decisions you and your spouse have agreed to either by consent or court order. The separation agreement will address, division of property, spousal support, child support and parenting.

How Do I get a Separation Agreement in Ontario?

The separation agreement is a culmination of all the negotiations you have made with your spouse. There are a few ways you can get to a consensus on the terms in your separation agreement.

  1. You and your spouse can use the traditional approach of hiring lawyers to fight and litigate on your behalf.
  2. You can do it yourself if you and your spouse are in agreement on everything.
  3. Or you can choose to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. Mediation is more commonly used now, given that the 2021 changes to the Divorce Act requires alternative dispute resolution, which may include mediation, unless it is inappropriate (ex. Situations of family violence). The divorce laws in Canada are well defined, and families find the outcome of fighting with lawyers does not justify the time or the cost. With the new Divorce Act, mediation is the first choice, even for divorces that are financially complicated and conflicted. Contact the Fairway closest to you to find out how to get started.

How do I file for Divorce in Ontario?

To file for divorce, you can either do it yourself or you can solicit a service to file for divorce for you.

  • DIY divorce filing is done by obtaining the documents from the courthouse, filling out the documents together and filing the documents with the courthouse. It sounds simple. However, for couples with properties, support and children, the forms are cumbersome.
  • Obtaining assistance to file for divorce requires an additional fee, however you will leave the cumbersome paperwork and court running up to the professionals.

Once all decisions are made and the separation agreement is final, the last step is to file for your legal divorce. The court filing fees for a divorce in Ontario are approximately $632 CAD, and the divorce documents are filed with the Clerk of the Ontario Court (General Division). Once this step is complete, it is simply a matter of waiting for your Divorce Decree to arrive in the mail and confirm that you are legally divorced. If you are working with lawyers or a mediation firm, many will have a reasonably inexpensive service to do this for you. While the process itself is pretty straightforward, accurately completing the forms can be tricky and may mean many revisions. As such, many choose not to do this themselves to avoid a direct hassle with the courts.

The locations of courts in Ontario can be found by going to the Ontario court website.

Do I have to wait a year to apply for a divorce?

In Ontario, spouses don’t have to wait for a year of separation to apply for a divorce. Spouses can start the application process as soon as they are separated. However, the court will not grant the divorce until the year of separation is complete. All proper documentation pertaining to dependents that outline how the children will be protected must also be completed.

While you can get a divorce without addressing all the property, this is not usually advisable.

A divorce in Ontario can be granted without waiting for one year of separation if spouses prove that the marriage has broken down because:

  • A spouse committed adultery
  • A spouse committed physical or mental cruelty

However, if a spouse applies for divorce on either of these grounds, the other spouse might oppose it, leading to a more protracted and more expensive process. As a result, most choose to wait out the one year of separation and then file. Very few divorce applications are filed based on the claims above since the breakdown of the marriage, regardless of what they are, has no bearing on how assets are divided.

How to Self-Represent yourself in Ontario Family Court

Self-representing in matrimonial issues is common if the couple is unable to mediate or negotiate together and they do not want to obtain legal counsel. A person who chooses to self-represent is acting on behalf of himself or herself before a court.

Representing Yourself in Ontario Family Court

Family Court Applicant PDF

This tool assists to navigate through the process of self-litigation in Ontario.

Introduction to Family Law in Ontario

Introduction PDF


Custody, Parenting & Child Support

Child Support in Ontario

Under the Family Law Act there is a responsibility for parents to support their children, even when one parent does not participate in the care of the child/children.

The parent who the child/children live with most of the time is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. If the parties have shared parenting time, the parent who has the higher income will most likely be responsible to pay the other parent child support.

Child Support PDF

The booklet explains the law around Child Support in Ontario.

What are the child support guidelines in Ontario?

Child support in Ontario is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines

These amounts calculated are based on how much the payor earns and how many children the payor is paying support for. It is also based on the time the child/children spend with each parent. Each province has its own simplified table. This is the table for support in Ontario

The amount to be paid is based on the total annual income (before taxes) of the payor and the number of children to be supported. Each province has its own table.

How do you calculate child support in Ontario?

In order to figure out how much child support the payer will be responsible to pay under the child support guidelines use the Child Support Online Lookup to calculate the amount of child support.

To request a copy of an existing child support order, you must make a request at the court office where the file is located. Learn how to get a copy of a Child Support Order.

For a quick calculation try the child support calculator.

What is the age of Majority in Ontario?

The age of majority in Ontario is 19 years of age.

Decision Making Responsibilities, and Parenting Plans

Custody Access PDF

The booklet explains the law around custody and parenting in Ontario.


Spousal Support

Spousal Support in Ontario

The law in Ontario views spousal relationships as financial partnerships. When the partnership breaks down, the party with a higher income or assets may be required to pay support to the other. However, the law in Ontario expects adults to look after their own needs to the best of their abilities.

How do I figure out the amount of support to be paid?

To decide on how much spousal support and the length it should be paid, Ontario law says that many factors are to be considered, including but not limited to:

  • How much the spouse needs to meet his or her needs
  • How much the other party can afford to pay

The party may claim support to help become financially self-sufficient or to keep from ending up in serious financial difficulty.

The Support Advisory Guidelines can help spouses figure out the amount of spousal support that should be paid. The guidelines take into account the income of both spouses, length of the marriage, and whether children are involved.

MySupportCalculator.ca is a website with a support calculator and can provide an estimated dollar amount that can be adjusted based on specific circumstances.

Can I enforce the spousal support agreement in Ontario?

Once an agreement is received for spousal support, parties can enroll with the Family Responsibility Office.

FRO enforces child and domestic support orders and collects support payments for families.

Be aware that FRO does its job best when files and information is kept up to date. Always make sure that FRO knows the most current address and phone number. If the payer has moved or has changed jobs, FRO should be notified.

Spousal Support PDF

This booklet explains the law around spousal support in Ontario.


Property/Financial

Property Division in Ontario

When a marriage is ending in Ontario, property rights are governed by Part I and Part II of the Family Law Act in Ontario (FLA). Part II deals specifically with the division of the value of the matrimonial home, while Part I deals with all other matrimonial property.

It should be noted that only couples who have entered into a legal marriage may make use of these provisions of the law in Ontario.

Common-law couples in Ontario, regardless of the length of the relationship, cannot make an application under these parts of the Family Law Act. They must use a different principle of law called “unjust enrichment” and “constructive trusts” in order to obtain a share of property held in the other person’s name that was built up during marriage.

How does property get divided in Ontario?

When getting separated or divorced in Ontario, the spouse whose net family property is the lesser of the two is entitled to one-half the difference between them.

Net family property is calculated by adding together the value of all of the spouse’s property that a spouse owns on the date of separation, minus exclusions and then deducting the following:

  • Spouse's Debt
  • The value of property (apart from the matrimonial home) that the spouse owned on the date of marriage. (The value of any debts that the spouse had on date of marriage, except for debts related to the matrimonial home, are deducted from this value first)

What property is excluded in the division of property in Ontario?

  • Property that was a gift or inheritance from a third party (i.e., not the other spouse)
  • Income from this property, so long as the giver specifically stated that this was to be excluded from the spouse’s net family property
  • Certain damages for personal injury settlements
  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy payable on the death of the insured person
  • Any property (apart from a matrimonial home) that was acquired with money from the above exclusions
  • Property that the spouses agreed by a domestic contract (marriage contract or pre-nuptial agreement) would be excluded from the spouse’s net family property

Spouse’s property is defined as anything held in that parties’ name or bought by them, such as a car. Any item bought together that is registered in both names is considered joint property. In this case, each party would claim half the value.

How do you determine the value of property in Ontario?

The legal rules to follow in order to calculate the value of property and divide it between spouses can be complicated. Consult a mediator to assist in determining the value of your family property.

Are there time limits to settle family property or debt in Ontario?

There are time limits for division of property in Ontario. The time limits are as follows:

  • 2 years after the date of divorce
  • 6 years after the day of separation
  • 6 months after a spouse dies

Property Division

Property PDF

This booklet explains the law around property division when a relationship ends in Ontario.

Divorce Mediation and Resolution

Divorce mediation is a speedier and less costly way to dissolve a marriage than going through the courts and is mandated by the Divorce Act. With the help of a neutral third party such as Fairway, you and your partner will sit down together or perhaps apart to figure out an agreement encompassing all aspects of your divorce, from property division and spousal support to child decision making responsibilities. There are two types of divorce mediation, open and closed. Open mediation may be disclosed, while closed mediation is strictly confidential. Most family mediations are closed.

Divorce resolution through mediation requires teamwork. The mediator acts as a facilitator and guide, keeping the conversation moving forward and ensuring that all topics are covered. However, he or she will not provide legal advice. Therefore, it is best for both parties to seek legal advice from an independent lawyer before signing any final binding agreement.

Successful divorce mediation results in a non-binding, written agreement, that will be drafted into a binding separation agreement and then filed with the court. Upon court approval, it becomes legally binding. Enforcement may be sought in exactly the same way as a court order.

Divorce mediation can be challenging, as cooperation is essential. Through our proprietary process, though, which involves multiple professionals, we have helped many very contentious couples and financially complex families negotiate a fair and equitable settlement. Whenever possible, divorce resolution through mediation should be attempted, as it is much faster and less expensive than a court battle.

Laws

Federal

Federal Divorce Act

Deals with divorce, as well as claims for child and spousal support, and decision making and parenting time, in divorce cases.

The Divorce Act

Provincial

Children's Law Reform Act

This outlines matters such as decision making of, and parenting time of children, as well the rules to establish parentage of a child.

Family Law Act

This outlines spousal and child support, division of property, and possession of the matrimonial home.

Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act

This outlines the powers and responsibilities of the Family Responsibility Office to collect child and spousal support payments.

Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act

This outlines the methods to apply for a support order or a change of an existing support order in another Canadian province or reciprocating jurisdiction. Additional provisions are located in the Divorce Act.

For more information on these laws:

Family Legal