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How Long Does A Contested Divorce Take In Ontario?

How Long Does A Contested Divorce Take In Ontario?

How Long Does A Contested Divorce Take In Ontario?

Contested divorce might make you feel anxious because it is a more complex process that takes up to a year to complete. It can go longer if the process involves division of property, finances, and children. If you feel your divorce will become a contested one, it’s a good idea to understand the different factors affecting its duration, expected timeline, and ways you can reduce the time taken. We hope to answer these questions through this blog. 

What is a Contested Divorce? 

A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot agree on key issues such as property division, child custody, support, or alimony. A court will intervene to resolve these disputes. 

Factors Influencing the Duration

  • Complexity of Issues: Disputes over high-value assets or complicated child custody arrangements can prolong proceedings.
  • Court Schedules and Delays: Ontario courts, like many others, face scheduling challenges that can delay hearings and decisions. Court hearings can also be delayed due to holidays. 
  • Willingness to Compromise: A common issue across contested divorce where one or both parties show unwillingness
  • Legal Representation and Strategy: Working with an experienced family lawyer reduces the time because they have tactics to make the other party agree. A new lawyer, no matter how proficient, will lack the experience
Judge's gavel on a wooden table with books and an hourglass to show contested divorce timeline.

Typical Timeline for a Contested Divorce

Initial Stage

In the first stage, your family lawyer will ask you to collect documents, which can take a few weeks. Following this, the divorce papers must be formally served to the other spouse and made sure that they’re received it. The responding spouse is then given a set timeframe, usually several weeks, to provide their response. This response can either contest the divorce or its terms, or agree to them.

Since we’re talking about contested divorces, the response period can also be used to negotiate and resolve any potential issues

Court Proceedings

This stage involves 3 distinct parts:

  • Case Conference: Initial meeting with a judge to discuss the issues and explore settlement possibilities. Scheduling this meeting can take a few months.
  • Motions and Interim Orders: If temporary orders for support or custody are needed, this can add time to the process. 
  • Discovery and Settlement Discussions: Lawyers of both parties will exchange financial information and negotiation and can take up to a few months. 

Trial and Finalization

If issues remain unresolved, a trial is necessary. Your lawyer will schedule a trial, which can be a year or longer after the initial filing. This might lead to the divorce taking longer than a year. 

If during the trial, the judge gives a decision, you will be granted the divorce, which will take a few weeks to be issued. 

Realistic Expectations

Since every family law case is unique, predicting the exact timeline is tricky. On average, a contested divorce in Ontario can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years or more. 

Facing a contested divorce in Ontario? Let our family lawyer at Noori Law guide you with expertise and compassion. Contact us for dedicated legal support today.