How Do I Get A Divorce?

 In Family Law

A divorce legally ends your marriage and gives you the ability to get re-married.

The law to get a divorce is the same across Canada as it falls under the Divorce Act. While the process is not the most complicated, there is criteria that must be met and a number of steps that must be taken.


An Ontario court can grant you a divorce if:

  • You and/or your spouse have ordinarily resided in Ontario for at least a year immediately before your divorce application; and
  • There has been a breakdown of a marriage.

Ordinary Residence

Being close to the Quebec border, we here in Ottawa have seen this question crop up several times.

To ordinarily reside somewhere is generally understood to be a place where a person regularly, normally or customarily lives in a settled routine. A sense of permanence is clear. Examples include having a home in a given province, where you work, if you have children, where they reside and go to school, and the province in which you file your taxes.

Breakdown of a Marriage

Spouses can establish a breakdown in the marriage if:

  • They have been living separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding your divorce application;
  • A spouse has committed adultery since the marriage; or
  • A spouse has treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to make it intolerable to continue living together as spouses.

Obtaining a divorce based on adultery or physical or mental cruelty is quite difficult. Most spouses will wait the one year to get their divorce.


Either spouse can decide to start the divorce process and it can be done solely by one party, or jointly. Most commonly, parties already have a Separation Agreement in place, which will have already settled all of the issues resulting from the separation, and will also often say who’s responsible for the divorce process.

How long does it take? A few months. The Divorce Application is served on the other spouse and they typically have 30 days to respond to the divorce. If you have already settled everything via Separation Agreement or Court, then there will be no need for the served spouse to respond. There are a few more administrative steps, but once you receive your Divorce Order, your divorce is effective 30 days from the date of the Order. The Certificate of Divorce is the final document. This is the document you will need if you wish to remarry.

If you need assistance with obtaining a divorce, or in the steps leading up to a divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact our family law department.

This blog post was written by Olivia Koneval, a member of the Family Law team.  She can be reached at 613-369-0367 or at

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