In Canada a divorce only terminates a marriage and it can only be done through the courts. Issues like custody, access, child support, spousal support and property division, can be dealt with inside a divorce proceeding or those issues can be negotiated separately. You do not need a divorce to resolve these issues, but you do need a divorce to get married again. You can technically live the rest of your life as separated, but still legally married.
You can get divorced in Canada as long as you, or your spouse, have lived in Canada for at least a year. Divorces granted in Canada are based on your current status as a resident, not where your marriage took place.
In Canada, the only legal reason for a Divorce is that your marriage has broken down. The law accepts that there has been a breakdown of your marriage if you can prove that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for at least one year. In some cases spouses can be living separate and apart even if they live under the same roof, but in this situation it is up to you to prove that while living together you did not live as a couple. You can get a divorce earlier than one year if you can prove that your marriage has broken down for either adultery or cruelty. However, pursuing this route is often a lengthy process and more costly.
Only one spouse needs to request a Divorce. As long as you meet the criteria for a divorce, the other spouse cannot stop the request for a divorce.
Interestingly, you do not have to be a Canadian citizen to be granted a Divorce in Canada. Also, it doesn’t matter where your marriage took place. As long as you or your spouse have been a resident in Canada for at least a year.
Once a Divorce has been granted you will receive a Divorce Judgment from the court. You only have a 31 days to appeal the Judgment. Once this time has passed the Divorce is final and it cannot be undone. However the terms of your Divorce are never final. Terms such as child custody, access, support etc. These can be changed depending on changes in people’s lives and circumstances. If you are getting married again, you will need to get a “Certificate of Divorce” from the court. The Divorce Judgment is not enough.
You do not need a lawyer to get a divorce. However, consulting with a lawyer is always the best idea as many people looking to get divorced have other issues relating to children, support, property etc. A lawyer experienced in family law can make sure your rights, children and property are fully protected.
If you are considering separation or divorce, the first thing you should do is educate yourself. Learn all you can about the process of divorce and the different options available to you. Make sure you have copies of all important financial and legal documents related to your marriage and then once you have a basic understanding of the divorce process and your paperwork is in order, have a consultation with a lawyer. A lawyer that specializes in family will be able to help you understand the dynamics of Divorce in your province and given your specific situation.