A “simple divorce,” often known as an “uncontested divorce,” is when both partners agree that they want to end their marriage. Filing for a simple divorce in Ontario can be like returning something at a store when you both agree it’s the right thing to do-you’re in and out with no hassle.
Assessing Eligibility for a Simple Divorce
Criteria for Simple Divorce: No-Fault and Uncontested
To be eligible for a simple divorce, you have to tick certain boxes:
No-Fault: This means neither of you is blaming the other for the divorce. It’s like saying the marriage just isn’t working out, but no one did anything wrong.
Uncontested: You both agree on all the important points: who gets what, and if you have kids, where they live and how you’ll handle visits.
Think of it as agreeing to end a partnership without any arguments-it’s straightforward because nobody’s fighting.
Residency Requirements and Waiting Periods
Before you can file for a simple divorce, you have to live in the state where you want to get divorced for a certain time. This is like a club having a rule that only people who’ve been members for a year can vote on club matters.
Identification (like your driver’s license or passport)
Financial documents (like tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements)
Property documents (if you own a home or other property)
Information about debts (like credit card bills or loan documents)
If you have kids, their birth certificates and information about their schooling and healthcare
Having all of this stuff ready is like having the right screws and parts sorted out before you start building.
Deciding Whether to Hire an Attorney or File Pro Se
Hiring an Attorney: If you’re not sure about the process or if it seems too much like trying to build that piece of furniture without instructions, a lawyer can guide you.
Filing Pro Se: If your divorce is really simple and you feel like you understand what to do, you might decide to handle it on your own. It’s like following the instructions to build the furniture by yourself without any help.
Deciding between these options is about balancing how complicated your divorce is with how comfortable you feel handling the paperwork and procedures on your own.
Understanding the Legal Grounds for Simple Divorce
When you’re looking to get a simple divorce, there are some basic rules or “grounds” you need to understand. Think of grounds like reasons you give to the school principal about why you need to leave school early. In the case of divorce, these reasons are legally recognized.
Explanation of No-Fault Grounds
“No-fault” grounds for divorce are like saying you want to leave the school because you’re just not fitting in, but it’s nobody’s fault. You’re not blaming your partner for anything specific that might have gone wrong in your marriage. It’s kind of like saying to the teacher, “We don’t need to get into who did what, we just know it’s not working out.”
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An “uncontested divorce” is when both people agree on everything about breaking up. It’s like two friends deciding to cancel a trip they planned together, and they both agree on how to split the money they saved for it.
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree on:
How to divide your stuff (like money, houses, or cars)
What will happen with your kids (if you have any), like who they will live with most of the time and how they’ll spend time with the other parent
How to handle other things, like debts or ongoing payments from one person to another (sometimes called spousal support or alimony)
Because everything is agreed upon, there’s no need for a big court battle. It’s a lot like returning something to a store with a receipt when both the customer and the store clerk agree on the return policy-simple and no hassle.
Initiating the Divorce Process
So, you’re ready for a straightforward divorce and you check all the boxes for eligibility. It’s time to dive in and get the process underway. Let’s walk through the initial steps to start separating your lives legally:
Locating the Proper Court to File Your Divorce
Identifying the Correct Court: Just like you’d visit your local grocery store to get your groceries, you need to find the specific courthouse that deals with divorces in your area to file your divorce papers.
Obtaining the Necessary Forms: These forms are available at the courthouse or possibly on its website. They’re essentially a questionnaire about your marriage, assets, and children (if applicable), not unlike a detailed form for a membership or registration.
Completing the Forms: Fill in the required information carefully and honestly-think of it as creating a profile that reflects your marital journey and what you wish to happen post-divorce.
Submitting the Forms: Take your completed forms back to the courthouse.
Remember, this is the formal beginning of a new chapter in your life, and getting the paperwork right sets the tone for the entire process.
Letting Your Spouse Know: The Official Notice of Divorce
The process is known as “serving” the divorce papers.
Choosing Someone to Serve the Papers: You’re not allowed to hand over the divorce papers to your spouse yourself.
Delivering the Papers Formally: The process server or sheriff will hand the papers to your spouse and then provide proof to the court that the papers were delivered.
Sticking to the Rules: There are strict rules about how and when the divorce papers must be given to your spouse.
Filing the Divorce Settlement Agreement
After you’ve started the divorce process and let your spouse know about it by serving them with the papers, the next big step is to make an official plan for how you’ll both move on after the divorce. This plan is called a “Divorce Settlement Agreement.”
Drafting the Agreement
Here’s how you do it:
List Everything: Write down all the things you have. Then decide who gets what and who is responsible for the debts. If you have kids, you’ll also decide who they will live with and when they will visit the other parent.
Be Fair and Clear: The agreement should be fair to both people. You both need to be happy with what you’ve decided.
Write it Down: You write all your decisions in a document. This document becomes your Divorce Settlement Agreement. It’s like a contract that says who will get the books, who will keep the game console, and so on.
Attending the Final Divorce Hearing
The final divorce hearing is like the last level of a video game. It’s the final step in making your divorce official. Here’s what you need to know about getting through it:
What to Bring to the Hearing
Your Photo ID: Your driver’s license or passport.
Your Divorce Papers: Bring all the paperwork you filed and anything the court sent you. This is like the rulebook of the game.
Your Divorce Settlement Agreement: If you and your spouse worked out how to split things and handle your kids, bring this agreement. It’s like the playbook you’ve both agreed to follow.
Any Court Orders: If the court already made any temporary orders while you were waiting for the divorce, bring those too.
Proof You Served Your Spouse: This shows you followed the rules and let your spouse know about the divorce the right way. It’s like showing you followed the game rules by not cheating.
Financial Documents: Sometimes, you need to bring recent financial information, like pay stubs or tax returns. It’s proof of your ability to pay debts or support your kids.
What to Expect During the Hearing
At the final hearing, the judge is like the referee who’s going to make sure everything is fair and follows the rules. Here’s what usually happens:
Standing before the Judge: You’ll go up to stand before the judge.
Answering Questions: The judge may ask you questions about your divorce and your agreement to make sure everything’s clear and fair. You have to answer honestly – it’s not the time for bluffs or secrets.
The Judge’s Decision: If the judge thinks everything’s in order, they will approve your divorce. They’ll sign the final order, and that’s it – you’ve finished the game, and the divorce is official.
Getting Official Papers: You might receive official papers right there, or you might get them in the mail later. These papers are like the trophy that says you’ve completed the process.
The final hearing isn’t usually long or complicated in a simple divorce. If everything’s agreed upon and all your papers are in order, it can be over pretty quickly. It’s the last step to closing this chapter and starting fresh.
Finalizing the Divorce
Obtaining the Final Divorce Decree
Once the judge says okay to your divorce at the final hearing, they will sign a document called a “divorce decree.” This is like the official rule that says the game is over, and you’re not married anymore.
To get this paper, you might:
Receive It Right Away: Sometimes the judge will give it to you at the hearing.
Get It in the Mail: The court will mail it to you.
Pick It Up: In some cases, you might have to go back to the courthouse to pick it up.
Make sure to keep this paper safe because it’s very important. It’s the proof that you’re divorced.
Understanding the Post-Divorce Decree Actions
After you get your divorce decree, there might be a few more things to do, like:
Follow the Rules: If your divorce decree says to do certain things like pay money to your ex or transfer the title of a car, make sure to do those things.
Notify People: You might need to tell people about your divorce, like your bank or your job, especially if you need to change your name back.