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Old 01-25-2016, 03:04 AM
Shawn-Toronto Shawn-Toronto is offline
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Default Joint Divorce Process - low cost and low stress

Background: Me and my (soon to be) ex-wife wanted to handle our divorce smoothly, amicably, and with the least cost possible. We've been separated for a few years, and both of us have moved on to other relationships. We had used lawyers to negotiate our separation agreement, but we didn't want to go through that hassle or cost again, the separation agreement was working well.

I did a lot of research, including at this site, where some people had advocated using the "Simple" approach, where one party files, serves papers on the other party, and after the other party doesn't respond for 30 days goes back to the courthouse, but that seemed like a lot of stress and delay to me. In our case, we opted to use the "Joint" approach, which ended up being incredibly smooth and painless, and something I would recommend to anyone in the same situation. We completed the entire process in about 3 hours.

I wanted to share the process we followed in case anyone here may find it useful:

Step 1: visit the courthouse and pick up a forms packet

One of the forms you need to file is a red "continuing file" cover, which is printed on red card-stock. The forms packet also contains folder tabs, etc., which the court clerk will use when assembling your completed package. You could probably get this in the last step, when you visit the courthouse together, but it's better to have it ahead of time. The packet also includes a checklist of all documents needed, along with the process.

Step 2: download and complete divorce forms.

All of the Ontario court forms you need to complete are available online in Microsoft Word format. You can download each of the three forms you need here:

There is also a PDF file you will need to download, for the federal Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings. You can obtain this form by clicking here.

You should complete and save two version of Form 36 (Affidavit for Divorce) - one is for you, one is for your spouse. Other than the name at the top and the last known address at the end, the two should be identical.

On Form 8A, you should ideally only check box 00 ("Divorce") - the checkboxes on this form are what you are asking the court to issue orders on. If you already have a separation agreement covering things like custody, support payments, etc., and you're happy with it, you can just check the top-left box ("00 - Divorce") and leave the rest blank.

Step 3: email a draft of all the forms to your spouse and make corrections as needed

The Joint divorce application is just that, joint. You are both filing the application to the court directly, and you both need to agree with its contents.

From my perspective, this is really what takes all the stress out of this process, because you and your spouse jointly control all steps of it, and neither of you can go behind each other's back. With this process, you are both going to the courthouse together, and you both know exactly what is being filed.

Step 4: print all the forms and put together a package
  • Three copies of Form 8A, which you and your spouse will both sign as joint applicants.
  • One copy each version of Form 36, the one for you, and the one for your spouse. Don't sign these until you get to the notary public.
  • Four copies of Form 25.
  • One copy of the Central Divorce Registry PDF.

You will also need an original certified copy of your marriage certificate and two self-addressed stamped envelopes, one for you, and one for your spouse - these will be used to send you your divorce order.

Step 5: visit a notary public together with your spouse

Some notaries give a discount for multiple notarizations in the same visit - if you go with your spouse you can take advantage of this discount. Ask the notary to notarize the two versions of Form 36 for both yourself and your spouse.

Ask the notary to send you a scanned copy of the two signed forms for your records.

Step 6: visit the courthouse together with your spouse

After you leave the notary, you carry everything to the courthouse, where you present all of it to the court clerk, who will assemble the file, collect the court fees (approx $450) and assign a file number. In our case (we went to Ontario Superior Court in Brampton) we had to stand in line to get a number, and let the receptionist check our papers for completeness, then it was a half-hour wait to see the court clerk.

The court will send the Central Divorce Registry form off to Ottawa, and when they get a response, will put the rest of the documents before a judge and you get the divorce order in the mail.

Conclusion

I've recently completed this process, just this past week, but it seemed so painless I wanted to share with the people on this forum, in case it will benefit someone. All in all, the whole process took us 3 hours, I picked up my (soon to be) ex-wife at her house, we drove to the notary together, and from there to the courthouse, and I dropped her back home when we were done. The total cost was about $510... the notary charged $50 for the first notarization and $10 for the second (because we went there together), and the court fees were about $450.
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