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Can I Get A One-Sided Divorce in Ontario? 

Can I Get A One-Sided Divorce in Ontario? 

Can I Get A One-Sided Divorce in Ontario? 

Starting a conversation about divorce can intimidate anyone, given the possibility of an angry reaction or outright refusal from your spouse. To address this, Ontario law allows for a one-sided divorce, without needing the other’s agreement. The process looks different and is slightly more complicated than a joint divorce, in which both spouses apply for the divorce together. 

What is a One-Sided Divorce?

First off, let’s clarify what we mean by a “one-sided divorce.” This term is commonly used when one partner wants to end the marriage, and the other does not, or when one partner initiates the divorce without the mutual agreement of the other. In legal terms, this is often referred to as an uncontested divorce or a divorce without the other party’s consent.

Many couples separate but never get divorced legally. However, our family lawyers at Noori Law emphasize the importance of getting a legal divorce. There are three common grounds for divorce in Ontario, all of which will also qualify you for a one-sided divorce. They include: 

  • Separation for at least one year: You do not need your spouse’s agreement to start living separately.
  • Adultery: If your spouse has had a sexual relationship with someone else, you can file for divorce. However, you’re not required to stay in the marriage after discovering the adultery.
  • Mental or physical cruelty: This ground is less common and requires proof that continuing to live together is intolerable.
a person is stacking wooden blocks on top of each other

Let’s take a look at how the process of a one-sided divorce in Ontario looks like: 

1. Initiating the Process

To start the divorce process in Ontario, you need to file a divorce application with the Superior Court of Justice. If you’re applying for a one-sided divorce, you’re essentially filing an Application (Divorce) without needing your spouse’s consent to proceed. However, your spouse must be served with the divorce papers and given a chance to respond.

2. Serving the Papers

“Serving” means delivering the divorce papers to your spouse in a way that follows the court’s rules. This step is crucial because it ensures that your spouse is aware of the divorce proceedings. They have 30 days to respond (60 days if they live outside Canada or the United States). If they don’t respond within the given timeframe, the divorce can proceed without their input.

3. Moving Forward

After serving the papers, if there’s no response or if your spouse agrees but doesn’t contest the divorce or its terms, you can then file for a motion for a default judgment. This means the court can grant your divorce without a hearing, based on the documents you’ve submitted.

4. Considerations and Support

Divorce is an emotional process for both parties. Don’t be afraid to seek support from your family and friends, counselors, and mental health therapists. Moreover, if there are children involved, their well-being and the arrangements for their care and support should be a priority. 

Child care is Ontario family law’s biggest priority, so make sure you have arrangements ready for custody and access before filing the papers.    

Can I judge choose to not grant me a one-sided divorce? 

A judge can choose to not grant you a one-sided divorce under three circumstances:

1. Insufficient Evidence for Grounds 

If you’re filing for divorce based on adultery or mental and physical cruelty, you must provide proof. A lack of evidence can lead a judge to refuse the divorce.

2. Unresolved Divorce-Related Issues

If children are involved, the court must see proper living and financial arrangements. On the other hand, they also have to make sure assets and finances are fairly divided and mentioned in writing. 

3. Improper Service of Divorce Papers

If the court feels you are trying to get divorce to benefit you or your spouse, they will reject your case. 
Need help with your divorce, whether it’s one-sided or joint? It’s smart to have your own lawyer. Get in touch with Noori Law’s family lawyers today for the support you need.