What separation paperwork can you do yourself? Has the relationship with your spouse has deteriorated to the stage of talk about separation or divorce? You might be wondering about how the process works and the formalities required by the laws in Canada and Ontario. Is a lawyer necessary? What paperwork is required, and can you prepare some of the paperwork on your own? Divorce and separation are quite different, so here is an overview to help you understand the process and procedures for each.
Doing your own divorce paperwork can be very hard. The paperwork associated with a divorce might appear to be easy enough to do, but you need to have at least a basic understanding of the process.
You and your spouse might have reached an agreement on child custody, support and property division, but unless a lawyer reviewed the settlement agreement, your rights might not be fully protected.
Here are a few tips to help you with the divorce paperwork.
Divorce paperwork- Make sure you have grounds for divorce
There must be a legal basis, known as the grounds for a divorce, upon which a court may order the termination of a marriage. The grounds for a divorce are contained in the federal Divorce Act and include any of the following:
- Separation from your spouse for at least one year prior to filing the application for divorce.
- Adultery committed by your spouse during the marriage.
- Physical or mental cruelty committed against you by your spouse making it impossible to continue living together.
If you do not have grounds to file for a divorce, you might have to separate from your spouse and wait a year.
Know what to ask for before filing
Before filing an application for divorce with the court, you need to know whether you are asking the court only to terminate the marriage or to terminate the marriage and decide other family law issues, such as the following:
- Custody and access to the children
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Division of property and debts
It is better to resolve these other family law issues through negotiations with your spouse than to leave them for a court to resolve. Asking a court to decide these issues prolongs the time it takes to finalize a divorce and makes it more complicated because a judge probably will hold hearings.
When there are children, courts will not grant a divorce before there is a resolution of the issues of child custody, access to the children and child support.
If there are no children and you ask only for a divorce, you could lose your right to make a claim for a division of property you owned with your spouse.
Property division claims must be made within six years from the date you separate from your spouse. Or it could be within two years from the date a divorce is granted.
Decide if you can handle the divorce paperwork on your own
The end of a marriage is an emotional time. It is common for people to experience depression, anxiety and unsettling emotions.
This could make it difficult or impossible to focus on gathering the information. Documents you need to prepare the application and other paperwork for a divorce can be tiring to find.
You might consider leaving the entire process to a lawyer if you believe your spouse will be cooperative. An uncooperative spouse could hide assets and income or transfer joint assets to make them unavailable to you.
Make an appointment for a consultation with a law firm to talk about separation paperwork
An Ontario lawyer who practices in the area of family law can review the settlement agreement you reached with your relationship with your children is protected and that the support and division of assets provide for your future financial needs. For example:
- assets you bring into the marriage,
- gifts received during the marriage from third parties,
- and inheritances may not be property subject to division in the divorce.
A lawyer might prevent you from giving away assets that belong to you. They can help you receive your fair share of the property. The attorney can help if your spouse claims the assets are exempt from division.
The distinction between separation and divorce
The primary difference between separation and divorce has to do with the effect on your marriage. Separation means that you and your spouse no longer live together as a couple, but it does not end the marriage. Ending a marriage requires a court order obtained through a divorce.
Separation does not involve a formal process, so the paperwork is minimal. It is recommended that you and your spouse discuss and reach an agreement about the following matters related to your marriage:
- Child custody and visitation
- Spousal and child support
- Division of property
- Occupancy of what was the family home
- Payment of debts
The settlement that you reach should be reduced to writing in a separation agreement that a lawyer could prepare for you. If you and your spouse cannot resolve these and other family issues, you will have to go to court to them decided by a judge.
Termination of your marriage through divorce is a formal court proceeding, so there is more paperwork required than for a separation.
The circumstances of your divorce, such as whether or not your spouse will contest it, determines the amount of paperwork and your ability to prepare it without a lawyer.
Separation paperwork and the process
If you live in Ontario, you begin the divorce process by filing an application and supporting documents at either the Superior Court of Justice or the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice.
The application may be completed and filed online jointly if you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for at least one year and are in agreement on child custody, property division and other issues related to the marriage.
You can use the online application process without the cooperation of your spouse when the only issue for a court to decide is the granting of the divorce.
If custody, support and other issues exist and have not been resolved, you cannot use the online application procedure.
A joint application for divorce must be accompanied by the following documents:
- Divorce orders
- A copy of your marriage certificate
- Child and spousal support forms
- Affidavits for divorce from both parties
- Forms related to custody and access to children
- Financial statements
You must also submit to the court a copy of your separation agreement.
If you are applying for a simple divorce and asking the court to grant only a divorce, you must complete an application. You should submit any prior court orders, such as support orders, along with the application.
What separation paperwork can you do yourself?
It helps to get legal advice and guidance from a lawyer experienced in family law matters, including divorce and separation, before attempting to file papers with the court on your own.
A lawyer will discuss the various issues related to your separation or divorce and provide you with options for resolving them while ensuring that your rights are protected. When you need help with separation paperwork, talk to a law firm.
Separation Paperwork Needed To Get Your Ontario Divorce Started
There are many documents needed to get your Ontario divorce started. The documents needed to file for a divorce in Ontario may vary depending upon the circumstances of your particular case.
For instance, if custody, support and other family law issues have been resolved through negotiations and reduced to a settlement or separation agreement, you could file an application online asking only for a divorce.
If, however, family law issues remain unresolved and you want a judge to decide them, you cannot use the online form. You must go to the courthouse. Separation paperwork can be complex.
The following is offered to help you to understand the divorce process in Ontario. It will explain the factors affecting the types of documents you will need.
Joint application for divorce
If you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all family law matters and you both agree to the divorce, you could file a joint application. Family law matters include the following:
- Division of property
- Child custody and parenting arrangements
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Responsibility for debts
In Ontario, you and your spouse must complete a divorce application, Form 8A, but joint applications can be completed and submitted online. A Form 25A, divorce order, must also be submitted with the application for divorce.
Form 25A is filled in and signed by the judge to whom your divorce case is assigned. It orders the various types of relief consistent with the settlement agreement or separation agreement.
It contains the family law matters the parties agreed upon prior to filing for divorce. For instance, the judge uses Form 25A to grant the divorce to terminate the marriage and can also order child custody, support and other matters consistent with the agreement.
When a joint divorce application includes a request for child or spousal support, a Support Deduction Order Information Form and a Support Deduction Order must be completed and submitted along with the divorce application.
The information form contains the names and contact information for each of the parties along with names and dates of birth of anyone, spouse or child, who is to receive support.
Other forms to be submitted along with the divorce application include the following
- The form 36 Affidavit for Divorce
- Form 35.1 Affidavit in Support of Claim for Custody or Access
- Form 13 Financial Statement for applications requesting child or spousal support without a request for division of property
- The form 13.1 Financial Statement for applications requesting a division of property
You must submit a copy of your marriage certificate, the separation or settlement agreement, and any prior court orders pertaining to family law matters involved in the divorce proceeding.
Documents Needed To Get Your Ontario Divorce Started- Simple divorce application
You might have reached an agreement with your spouse on all family law matters when you separated.
Now you only want the court to grant a divorce. Sadly, your spouse does not want to agree to the divorce. A joint application is not possible. You can still file for divorce using Form 8A and checking off the box labelled “Simple (divorce only).”
An application for a simple divorce can be completed and filed online. Filing for divorce online can be cheaper. Supporting documents as requested by the court after the filing of the application cannot be submitted online.
They must be delivered to the court. The application must be served on your spouse who has an opportunity to serve an answer responding to your divorce application
If you spouse does not agree about the divorce and will not reach an agreement on the other family law matters, must use Form 8 as your application for divorce.
This form must be filled out, printed and brought to the court for filing. It must come with supporting documents as required by the court depending upon the family law matters you are asking a judge to decide.
An experienced divorce lawyer can help
In conclusion, it is always a good idea to speak with an Ontario lawyer with experience representing individuals in divorce and other family law matters.
The legal advice, guidance and skilled representation of a lawyer can help to prevent costly mistakes. These mistakes may occur by attempting to do your own paperwork.
What Do I Do On The Day I Want To Separate?
Are you trying to prepare for a divorce? It’s important to speak to a lawyer early in the process.
You also want to figure out your RRSPs, bank accounts, assets, etc… You need to calculate all your assets and your spouse’s assets.
It’s important to become aware of all the investment and financial information.
Here are 5 Steps to take to prepare for a divorce or separation.
Denial can play a big role in not recognizing the telltale signs of a troubled marriage and cause some people to be unprepared for a separation or divorce. The preparations you make in anticipation of separating from your spouse or ending the marriage through a divorce are important.
It’s just as important as the preparations and planning that went into your wedding. Further, here are five steps to take to protect your legal rights. They will help you during an emotionally unsettling time.
You can book a phone consultation with a top family lawyer below. We have affordable lawyers in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and British Columbia.
Know what you want before moving forward
If there is uncertainty about the decision to separate or end the marriage, resolve it before one of you leaves the house or divorce proceedings begin. Seek professional counselling to make certain of your commitment to the decisions about your marriage. Reconciliation after a separation or a divorce could be difficult or impossible to achieve.
If you are doing research to prepare for a divorce, you can reach us on the form on this page.
Gather documents and information about finances and assets for the separation paperwork
This is a stressful time, so it pays to take some time to make a list of the assets and debts you and your spouse acquired during your marriage that would be divided between you and your spouse as part of a separation and divorce. Make a separate list of the debts and assets that each of you brought into the marriage or received during the marriage through gifts or inheritances from third parties that might not be subject to a division of property.
Your lists should include the date of acquisition of the asset or debt, its value when first acquired, and an estimate of its current value.
The lists should take into account the following:
- Real property
- Retirement accounts
- Bank accounts and brokerage accounts
- Household contents
- Valuable items, including works of art and antiques
- Mortgages and loans
- Credit cards
Gather deeds, bank statements, and other documentation for all of the assets and debts on the lists you prepared. You should also make copies of income tax returns along with paystubs or earnings records for both you and your spouse. Locating these records now before they are removed by your spouse will help your lawyer protect your rights.
Create an emergency fund
Divorce or separation can be expensive. Apart from the cost of retaining a lawyer to represent you, you will need money to pay for food, housing, and other expenses that you previously shared with your spouse. Start putting money aside as soon as you realize you might be getting a divorce or separating from your spouse.
Are you trying to prepare for a divorce? If you are ready to speak to a lawyer, book a meeting now.
Make your relationship with your children a priority
Do not involve your children in your marital problems, and refrain from making negative comments about your spouse in front of them. Keep their lives as normal as possible by sticking to the same routines as far as school and after-school activities.
If the children will not be living with you, stay involved in their lives with regular visitation and telephone contact. Courts take into consideration the relationship each parent has with their children when deciding custody and parenting issues.
Below are some things you should think about:
- Do you have your tax returns?
- Divorce is final
- Should you do separation or divorce?
- How good is your credit report and credit score?
- Do you have your spouse’s credit card statements?
- Do you have information about retirement accounts?
- Is all the information about the bank accounts available?
- Make sure you have all your pay stubs.
Separation paperwork help from an attorney
An important step in preparing for a separation or divorce is to know your rights and understand the process in Ontario for each.
Speaking with a lawyer with experience in family law before splitting with your spouse will provide a wealth of guidance and legal advice to prevent you from making mistakes and help to protect your finances and parenting rights for the future.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law