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Joint Divorce Process - low cost and low stress

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  • 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.


    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.

  • #2
    That is quite helpful, Shawn. Thanks!
    I'm likely going to PIN this into the Reference section, if you are ok with that?
    Start a discussion, not a fire. Post with kindness.


    • #3
      Thank you VERY much! This is exactly the process I hope to carry forward. This is perfect!


      • #4
        mcdreamy: yes, definitely, you're more than welcome to pin it into the reference section. I hope people find it helpful.

        eyeswideopen: glad to be of help....


        • #5
          Great addition to the forum (you and your post!). Thank you


          • #6
            My other big advice in this process - if you and your spouse are reasonable with each other you can cut down on legal costs in a big way, and you can both share the savings.

            One of the simplest things I did early in the process was do a walk-through of the marital home with my laptop and my spouse. The day before I'd done the same with just the laptop and a copy of Excel and I'd made note of all significant items. I'd already noted the items she came into the marriage with and the ones she did, and so from then on it was just a matter of picking out what was hers and what was mine. I'd already taken a first pass - those items that she'd advocated buying, that I knew were emotional for her, like the fancy china set, I'd noted as hers, the items I'd picked out I noted as mine. When we started the process, she was OK with all of my initial guesses, and we went through the rest of the furniture and other key items and put "his" or "hers" in the column beside. When we were done, I did a bit more work to get a current-value column beside each item, and when we were both happy, I emailed it to her lawyer and mine. This bit of effort saved thousands in legal fees and a whole heap of stress.

            Another big thing I did early in the process that some people might find strange - I prohibited my lawyer from dealing with my wife, or her lawyer. His job was to advise me, I said I would deal with them directly, which in the end resulted in me dealing with my wife directly and her lawyer assuming the same role for her. I took my lawyer's standard template separation agreement and edited it myself, replacing all instances of "Applicant" or "Respondent" and replacing with my first name or my spouse's, and replacing legal jargon with language that could be plainly understood by anyone. I let my lawyer review it before I sent it off, and he was happy with it. This resulted in a very plain-text separation agreement that anyone could understand, that my spouse willingly signed and has worked well.


            • #7
              Can I file for joint divorce, using the 3 forms mentioned, without a separation agreement?


              • #8
                Originally posted by cigar7 View Post
                Can I file for joint divorce, using the 3 forms mentioned, without a separation agreement?
                If you have a child(ren) they will most definitely need a SA.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ensorcelled View Post
                  If you have a child(ren) they will most definitely need a SA.
                  I have kids but they are over the age of majority not living at home


                  • #10
                    Thank you for posting this!!

                    My Ex and I are planning to go through the same process. the 1 year mark of separation has finally passed. We want to file JUST for divorce and it is a Joint Application. WE have no kids and no shared assets... So, I imagine this should be pretty painless.. or so I hope

                    I have a few questions:
                    1. Did you fill out 8A with both of you as "Applicants" and no respondent? or Only 1 and 1?
                    2. Does form 25 need to be filled out prior to visiting the court?
                    3. Did you need a copy of your marriage certificate? (I was married in Japan, so I believe I need to have it translated..... =\)
                    4. Form 36: Same question... 2 applicants OR 1 applicant and 1 respondent?

                    Thank you!!


                    • #11
                      Wondering how this process changes in this scenario:
                      • Custody, Access, all financials settled via trial and court order
                      • Costs settled via court order
                      • Expect stubbornness from ex-wife on Application for Divorce, just because ...

                      Really just need a rubber stamp divorce, since all details are settled. Joint application unlikely so will have to force the issue.

                      Couldn't find a similar sticky or posting. Would it be the same process regardless? (Apologies if this is posted elsewhere)


                      • #12
                        This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much.


                        • #13
                          I had originally intended to do this as well. Now almost 7 years separated and kids both >18 I decided to use a service for the divorce as I didn't want to wait around for STBX to drag his feet or find excuses not to have time for this....It was well worth the 400 + tax (plus court fees) to have it done on my behalf.

                          I started the process late in September as an "sole/uncontested divorce", had adult child serve him the initial papers on Sept. 30 (followed by affidavits of service) so I didn't need to wait for anything from him. 30 days passed, the second filing was done and yesterday I received my divorce order by mail, dated November 17 so the whole process was done in a month and a half! An early Christmas present for sure...


                          • #14
                            Joint application

                            How can we file jointly for divorce if we live 2 hours apart? We also work 2 different shifts.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Hoping582 View Post
                              How can we file jointly for divorce if we live 2 hours apart? We also work 2 different shifts.

                              I may be wrong but unless you both can attend the court house together you canít file jointly... you can however do an uncontested divorce... I believe in that case only one of you have to attend. Or if you want to file jointly take the morning or afternoon off work and go do it. There are ways if youíre willing to make it work

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