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 free consultation with our mediators select the office closest to your home.
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.
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.
To file for divorce, you can either do it yourself or you can solicit a service to file for divorce for you.
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.
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:
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.
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.
This tool assists to navigate through the process of self-litigation 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.
The booklet explains the law around Child Support 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.
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.
The age of majority in Ontario is 19 years of age.
The booklet explains the law around custody and parenting 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.
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:
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.
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.
This booklet explains the law around spousal support 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.
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 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.
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.
There are time limits for division of property in Ontario. The time limits are as follows:
This booklet explains the law around property division when a relationship ends in Ontario.
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 can 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.
Deals with divorce, as well as claims for child and spousal support, and decision making and parenting time, in divorce cases.
This outlines matters such as decision making of, and parenting time of children, as well the rules to establish parentage of a child.
This outlines spousal and child support, division of property, and possession of the matrimonial home.
This outlines the powers and responsibilities of the Family Responsibility Office to collect child and spousal support payments.
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: