Is your relationship over? Have you moved out and now want to resolve the issues? Maybe you have been apart for a while and just want it finalized? You want a divorce!

A divorce is a piece of paper signed by a judge that terminates the marriage. You need it if you want to get married again but before you get a divorce, you first need a separation agreement. It is a legally binding contract between you and your spouse settling all of the issues: the children’s schedule, the support and the equalization  and division of property.

The separation agreement is binding even after the divorce so is a very important document indeed. It will govern your relationship forever.

There a few steps to take immediately but eventually, you need to tackle the big issues. Resolving the issues can be challenging. There are six processes you can use to achieve a settlement:

1. Kitchen table: You negotiate an agreement on your own. You bring it to your lawyer who then creates the separation agreement. This process is for very amicable separations.

2. Mediation: You and your spouse work with a neutral mediator who helps you negotiate an agreement. You bring it to your lawyer who then creates a separation agreement.

3. Collaborative Process: This is a very effective process that keeps you and your spouse out of the clutches of the court system. The entire process is focused on settling the issues. This process works extremely well and is my favorite process. Even difficult issues can be resolved Collaboratively. It is cost effective and clients really love the results. There are a lot of advantages to this process.

4. Cooperative Process: You and your spouse each have a lawyer and you work together to resolve the issues.  This process can work effectively but runs the risk of leading to court (not good). Some times it can be cost effective if settlement is achieved but other times the costs can spiral out of control when you end up in court or arbitration. In Collaborative, court is not an option.

5. Arbitration: This process is similar to going to court except that you and your spouse choose the person who will be the judge (called the arbitrator). S/he has the same powers as a judge. The process is more expensive than the others (except court) and you give the power to resolve your family’s issues to the arbitrator. Wouldn’t you rather resolve them yourself?

6. Family Court: Court is the most expensive process, takes the most time, is the least predictable and increases the conflict and animosity. Ultimately, a decision will be imposed on you by the judge.  Most clients are unhappy with the process and the results. Here is a full explanation of the court process in Ontario. We see Court as the last resort  so we only go when the other side just won’t negotiate in good faith.

Once you have settled the issues by way of court or a separation agreement,, you can get a divorce. We do dozens of divorces for clients each year so we can do this for you. If you want to try to do yourself, here are the steps.

The first step: The first step involves completing an application for divorce (court papers). The application has to be issued by the court so that you have a court file number. The application is then served on your spouse. Assuming s/he does not contest it (if a separation agreement is in place, there is nothing to contest), then after 30 days you can file an affidavit for divorce (more prescribed court papers) asking the judge to issue the divorce. The file will then sit in the court house and wait for a judge to review it. At the time of writing this article, it is taking about 6 to 8 months to get a divorce because the court system is so backed up. Once the judge has reviewed and approved it, you are divorced. You can then get a certificate of divorce issued thirty days later.

When can you divorce? In Ontario, most people get a divorce on the basis of having been separated for one year. The date of separation is the date when one of you told the other that the relationship is over. This can occur prior to the actual physical separation. It is also possible to get a divorce on the basis of adultery or physical or psychological abuse.

One word of caution: A judge does not have the power to grant you a divorce unless there is proper child support being paid in accord with the Child Support Guidelines.

There are many reasons why people proceed with a divorce. Are you ready to seek a divorce?

Whew… now you are divorced… and you can try it again! Good luck. Second time is a charm! I know from personal experience! (See how happy I am now!!)