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"The Costco
of divorces"

Jim Richards
CFRB 1010 AM

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HOW DOES ezDIVORCE WORK?  HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE?

NOTE: You may have heard something in the news about a new requirement that couples attend a mandatory information program session before filing for divorce in Ontario. The news is inaccurate and misleading on several points, including that the requirement does NOT apply to 'simple' divorces. It only applies if you are asking for something in addition to the divorce (spousal support, child custody/access support, division of property, etc.). It also does not apply to joint divorces.

  1. You place your order through the web site and then complete an online divorce intake form.

    You indicate whether you want to file a simple 'sole/uncontested' divorce or a joint divorce:

    Sole/Uncontested Divorce - A simple 'sole/uncontested' divorce in Ontario is one where you are essentially suing your spouse for divorce and in which the only request is for a divorce - as opposed to a 'regular' divorce in which you are seeking court ordered division of property, spousal support and/or child custody, access and support, etc. After your Application for Divorce is filed with the court, a copy must be served on (given to) your spouse. Your spouse then has 30 days (60 days if served outside of Canada or the USA) to contest the divorce or make his or her own claim. If he/she does not contest (by filing and serving you with the required court forms) within the prescribed time, the divorce then becomes 'uncontested'.

    Joint Divorce - In a joint divorce in Ontario, both spouses sign all of the required divorce papers
    . Neither spouse is suing the other for divorce - you are telling the court that you both want the divorce.

    Sole or Joint? - In the end (the granting of the divorce), there isn't really a significant difference between the two: the cost and the timing* are generally the same.
    In some cases, both spouses are willing to sign the joint divorce papers; however it may be inconvenient because, for example, one of the spouses lives overseas. This does not, however, make a joint divorce in Ontario impossible. It just takes a bit more coordination. Many couples want to do a joint divorce regardless of any logistical issues. Others choose to go the 'sole/uncontested' divorce route simply because it is more convenient for one of the spouses to take care of all of the required paperwork.

    The following information is for a 'sole' divorce. If you are doing a joint divorce, click here.

  2. If you paid for the service through this website, you will be e-mailed the completed initial forms within a few hours to a day or two, with instructions for you to print, sign and mail back to us along with the first court filing fee ($167). If you choose to pay in person, we make arrangements to meet in our Toronto office.

  3. ezDivorce files the Application for Divorce at the court for you.

  4. Next, in a 'sole' divorce in Ontario, your spouse must be served with (given) a copy of the filed Application (this procedure is the same whether your spouse resides in Ontario or anywhere else in the world):

    By mail:  Serving your spouse by regular mail is included at no extra charge. For this method to be effective, your spouse must sign and mail back an included Acknowledgment of Service form. Note: Signing for registered mail or a courier is not a substitute for this step. If your spouse does not sign and mail back the Acknowledgment of Service form, he/she must be served in person (see below).

    In Person: If your spouse is not cooperative with being served by mail (or if you prefer not to try service by mail), he/she must be served in person. Your spouse does not have to sign anything if served in person. The person who hands the papers to your spouse must swear an affidavit of service (that
    ezDivorce prepares) stating that he/she served your spouse. You may not serve your spouse yourself. You can have a friend or family member do it for you. If you need a professional process server to serve your spouse, you must pay for this yourself (we will l let you know how to arrange this).  

  5. After your spouse is served, the next step is for you to swear the required affidavit for divorce. If you live in the GTA, you can do this for no additional cost at our office in Toronto. If it is inconvenient for you to come in for this, you can take the affidavit to any other commissioner of oaths (lawyer, notary, court clerks, justices of the peace, etc.) at your own expense. This can also be done for free at many local government offices or through your local MPP.

  6. 'Set-Down' the divorce: The second of the two required court filings is referred to as the 'set-down' (done by ezDivorce at the court for you). The earliest this filing can be made is 31 days after your spouse is served with a copy of the Application for Divorce that was filed with the court. However, most courts will not let you set-down the divorce until the court receives something called a 'clearance certificate' from an agency in Ottawa (this is an internal court process - you are not involved). This usually takes 6 to 8 weeks from when the Application was initially filed with the court, but can take longer. Note: If your divorce is based on separation, the divorce cannot be 'set-down' until you have been separated for a full year, so if you file 6 months into your separation, the 'set-down' cannot be filed (and the divorce cannot be finalized) until 6 months later. The court's final mandatory fee of $280 is paid at this time.

  7. After your divorce is 'set-down', you are waiting for a judge to review the papers and grant the divorce. On average, parties receive their DIVORCE ORDER (the actual court paper granting the divorce) in the mail from the court around 4 to 8 weeks after the 'set-down' is filed.  Again, some courts can be much slower than others.

  8. Your divorce takes effect 31 days after the judge grants it (noted as the 'Date of Order' in the left margin of the final divorce order).

  9. Divorce Certificate: The court does not send you a divorce certificate unless you request one and pay $19 for it once the divorce is final. You cannot request or pay for a divorce certificate in advance. You are not required to get a divorce certificate except when you want to get married again.

HOW LONG WILL THIS ALL TAKE?

On average, it takes 2 to 3 months from when your Application is filed with the court until the court grants your divorce (the divorce takes effect 31 days after it is granted). However, some courts are much slower than others. Note: There is no guarantee about timing. If you are planning to remarry, you are strongly cautioned not to make any plans until you have your divorce order in your hands. You will avoid unnecessary angst and anxiety by not assuming when your divorce will actually be final.

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Updated on September 15, 2014