What To Do When Served With Divorce Papers in Toronto

No couple who decides to get married plans to get divorced down the line. However, many relationships and marriages break down, making divorce the most sensible option to protect the welfare of all parties involved.

Divorce rates have been consistently declining in Canada. In 2020, 42,933 divorces were granted in the country, a significant decrease from the 56,937 recorded the previous year. Despite this decrease, divorce remains a reality for many couples.
Receiving divorce papers can take you by surprise. Read on to learn all about the Toronto divorce process and what you should do when your soon-to-be ex-spouse serves you with divorce papers.

How the Divorce Process Begins

The Divorce Act governs all divorce processes conducted in Canada. This act provides the general terms and conditions that all provinces and territories in the country follow.
However, your divorce will likely follow the specifics outlined in provincial laws. In Toronto, Ontario, your divorce process will fall under the Family Law Act.

To begin the divorce process, you must submit your application to the appropriate court while meeting the following conditions:
- Your marriage experienced a breakdown
- You married your spouse legally under Canadian law or in another country recognized by the Canadian government

If you plan to serve papers to your spouse, consult a divorce lawyer in Toronto to guide you.

Grounds for Divorce

Marriage breakdown is the one ground for divorce in Canada, making the application a no-fault petition. However, you or your spouse will need to prove the breakdown of your marriage.
Meeting any of the following criteria allows you to establish evidence of a marriage breakdown:
- Living apart for at least one year
- Adultery
- Physical or mental cruelty

For a divorce application based on living apart, you and your spouse could still live together for 90 days before or after filing your application. During this period, you may attempt to resolve things.
However, you can continue the divorce if this attempt fails. Make sure to consult a lawyer when doing this to avoid possible complications.

What To Do After Getting Served

Getting served with divorce papers means your spouse has begun the divorce proceedings. They have filed the necessary documents with the family court. Your spouse is now the claimant or applicant, and you are the respondent.

Accepting the divorce papers gives you 30 days to file an answer. You may also refuse to accept the documents, but this action will not stop the divorce process from continuing.

Check and review the documents

Upon receiving the document packet, open it and check what it contains. It should have all the necessary information concerning your spouse, marriage, children, or separation (if you decided to separate beforehand).
It may also contain your spouse’s special requests concerning the divorce terms, like child support, alimony, custody, and division of property and assets.

The document packet should also contain relevant forms. Check these and note the information in them. It should tell you the time limit for your response, the court date, and your next steps.

Act immediately

Responding to served divorce papers has a time limit. For this reason, it’s best to act immediately to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
Depending on your spouse’s application and any special requests, you may need to fill out and file several forms and documents.

Some examples of forms you need to fill out include the following:
- Form 10 or Answer
- Form 35.1 or Affidavit in Support of Claim for Custody or Access
- Financial statements

Keep track of the forms and paperwork you file. It would be safer to keep a copy for yourself for personal documentation.

Serve your paperwork

After filling out and preparing all necessary forms and paperwork, you can serve them to all concerned parties in your divorce. Count the days to ensure the served parties have enough time to respond.

You can serve the documents yourself if you are over 18 or ask a friend or family member to do it for you. You may hire a professional process server if it isn’t safe for you. You can ask the court for assistance if none of these options work.

File proof of service

After serving your papers, you must prove that each concerned party received them by filing Form 6B or Affidavit of Service.

File the original copies of the forms with the court identified in the divorce papers you initially received. Keep a copy for yourself as with all documents and records you complete.

Wait for the court process

Upon receiving the documents, the court will conduct an investigation and assessment before making a decision. Not all divorces go through a court trial, as these can often be expensive and physically and mentally taxing for all parties.

Most divorce cases require spouses to attend Mandatory Information Program (MIP) sessions. These sessions provide attendees with the necessary information concerning the family court process. It will discuss options, such as dispute resolution processes and mediation, aside from a court trial.

Upon finishing the sessions, you will receive a certificate of attendance which you must file with the court. Failing to show up to MIP sessions could result in sanctions.

The court process will also include at least one conference. The judge will decide the type and frequency of these conferences depending on your case. In these meetings, you, your spouse, and your lawyers will identify and resolve issues before taking things to court.

Processing the divorce will likely take a few months. With your lawyer’s assistance, you can file motions to address temporary and urgent matters, such as child custody or support.

Undergoing a divorce in Toronto can be incredibly challenging and stressful. Remember these tips and work with a competent and reliable lawyer to protect your rights and help you navigate the divorce process.

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Posted - 06/05/2023