Divorce Process Overview Pt. 1

If you have decided on a separation and a divorce it is necessary to become aware of the divorce process where you are. This article and a following one will discuss an overview of the divorce process in Ontario.

Firstly, it is important to realise that in Ontario there really is no such thing as being legally separated. The reality is if you are not divorced then you are still married until you are formally divorced. Such a divorce takes place one year from the date of separation, at which point you are allowed to apply for a divorce decree. A common question to ask is: what then is done in the meantime during the one year, waiting to make the application for a divorce decree?  It is during this time that you and your spouse work to create a separation agreement that legally dictates how you will deal with your children, your home, all of your assets, your pensions, debts and any support issues. To put it into perspective, the most important document in the whole divorce process is your separation agreement and not the divorce decree.

Therefore, it is correct to say that you divorce process is about creating a separation agreement that allows you and your family to make decisions, protect your interests and to move on with your life. The separation agreement in itself is likely the most important document that you will ever sign during the divorce process. Since the separation agreement is such a big deal, the task of drafting it should not be taken lightly. Drafting a separation agreement usually involves a combination of financial disclosure, whereby parties reveal all their finances to one another, creating and signing a separation agreement deals with all issues pertaining to life after separation and after divorce.

It is important to note that spouses have the important job of coming up with the separation agreement, however, they may decide to put faith in the family court system. It is important to note that the court system in itself is expensive and therefore, it is wise for spouses to draft their own separation agreement based on their circumstances and the situation at hand and tailor make the agreement to their family’s needs and situation.

There are a number of elements that play a pivotal role with regards to the separation agreement, some of these include the following:

Determining the date of separation – to formally start the divorce process it is when one spouse tells the other that it is their intention to separate. The date that a spouse has this discussion will usually become what is referred to as the date of separation. This date is of extreme importance as that is the date used for valuations, dividing up assets, financial disclosures, any support payments to be made and the divorce application once the separation agreement has been complete. As noted previously, it is one year from the separation date that the divorce decree application can be made.


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