Cost of Getting A Divorce in Canada



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Marriages are meant to be a long-life partnership and it takes a lot of sacrifices and efforts to make them work. But when things do not go as planned and one or both of the spouses decides to call it quits, divorce happens. The cost of getting a divorce in Canada can be inexpensive depending on the type of divorce.

Divorce in Canada – An Overview

Most couples divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, other grounds could be; infidelity (on the side of a partner or in rare cases, both), domestic violence and abuse, financial problems. Some couples also divorce because they want to remarry, especially in countries where you can only be legally married to one person at a time. 

Some divorces end amicably with out-of-court settlements while some end up messy and take a long time before they are settled. However, the longer time a divorce proceeding takes, the more the money spent in the process, especially if settled in court.

In Canada, only a court can give you a civil divorce. Any of the spouses may apply for a divorce but there must be proof that the marriage has broken down and also proof of support for the children if any. 

The only ground for divorce in the Divorce Act is marriage break-down and the following are the criteria to show that your marriage has broken down:

  • If you have been living apart for a year or more
  • Adultery – If your spouse has committed adultery
  • If your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you 

If you apply for a divorce based on the one-year separation, you and your spouse can live together for up to 90 days before or after you file for the divorce, to try reconciliation. If things do not work out, you can continue your action for divorce, ignoring the time you have spent together. 

If you both live in the same house but you are separated, you will need a lawyer to tell you the factors that courts consider when they decide the status of your separation. Bear in mind that only Canadian residents can divorce in Canada.

In Canada, provinces and territories are responsible for the processes of getting a divorce. You will need to fill out the right forms for your province or territory and file them in a court or your lawyer can do this for you. You may also need to pay an application fee depending on your province.

How to Apply for a Divorce in Canada

To begin any divorce case in Canada, an applicant must go through a court. You must meet the following criteria to be able to divorce in Canada.

  • Both spouses must be legally married under the Canada law or under laws of another country that is recognized in Canada.
  • The marriage has broken down
  • Both or either of the spouse lived in a province in Canada where they applied for divorce for a year immediately before filing in an application.

Documents Needed

Before filing in a court, it is important to get the following documents ready.

  • Original marriage certificate

You will be required to provide your original certificate of marriage or a certified copy of the registration of marriage. Note that a certificate issued at the church or any other place you were married will not be accepted by the provincial court’s divorce registry.

If you were married in Canada, can retrieve your certificate of marriage from or if married in the United States. If you were married in neither of the above-mentioned countries, you will need to apply for your original certificate of marriage or certified copy of the registration of marriage from the equivalent of Vital Statistics in the country you were married in.

Also, if the certificate is not in English, you will need to have it translated. Check with your province to know the requirement for how the certificate of marriage is to be translated.

  • A separation agreement or court order
  • Affidavit for divorce
  • Support deduction order
  • Financial statement (in case of a claim of custody) 
  • Support deduction order information form
  • Affidavit in support of a claim for custody or access

Guide to getting a divorce in Canada

If you meet the criteria for divorce and you are ready to commence your divorce process, you can follow this simple guide to simplify the process for you;

  1. Complete your separation process
  2. Get Your Application
  3. Choose a Fault or No-Fault Divorce
  4. Choose Contested or Uncontested
  5. Outline Details of Parenting Agreement (if child/children are involved)
  6. Apply for Divorce with Your Province/Territory and Pay the Fee
  7. Apply for a Fee Waiver (if you are unable to pay)
  8. Follow the Waiting Period
  9. Receive Your Certificate of Divorce

Cost of Getting A Divorce in Canada

The cost of getting a divorce in Canada includes a basic and not-so-basic fee. The basic fees include a court fee which varies across provinces in Canada. In Ontario, the court fee is around CA$447. The first payment which is CA$167 is due when the application for divorces is filled. Any additional fees are paid before the court reviews the divorce case.

Note that the above fees are not the only cost to be incurred when getting a divorce in Canada. Depending on the type of divorce, be prepared to pay as high as CA$74,122. When mapping out a budget, aside from the court fees, lawyer fee, other items you should budget for include: Appraisal and audits, mediation, etc.

In Canada, there are three types of divorces:

  • Amicable/uncontested divorce 

An amicable or uncontested divorce is generally the cheapest option. Here, you apply for a divorce based on a draft agreement between you and your spouse. This will help to reduce the time and cost of legal fees involved in the divorce proceeding. 

All that is required of both parties is to agree on the terms and grounds of the divorce, settle issues like child support, alimony, etc. Then, a judge certifies the agreement and there is no need to go to court. 

The average lawyer’s fees in Canada for this kind of divorce can range between CA$4,800 – CA$6,800. The cost for court proceedings depends on the province you live in. For example, in Quebec, total court fees cost about CA$413. 

The initial application for divorce costs CA$302 plus an additional fee of CA$101 for the joint application and another CA$10 federal registration fee.

An uncontested divorce takes an average of four to six months to be finalized. Note that due to some contingencies, the time the court will take to process the divorce is unknown.

  • Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is the exact opposite of an amicable divorce. It includes dirty fights, long hours in court and also, a lot of money. In this type of divorce, the couple cannot agree on the grounds and terms of their divorce. 

It is really expensive as the decisions are left to the court and lawyers to make. It also takes longer time depending on how complex and contentious the divorce is. The average cost for this type of divorce in Canada starts at CA$24,000 and can cost much more depending on how long it takes.

  • Quick Divorce

A quick divorce is a good option for couples without children or debt. It is like an online divorce proceeding and you can choose to meet a lawyer or not. The application is filed by both parties and the average cost for this type of divorce in Canada ranges between CA$500 and CA$1700. 

In Canada, the type of legal professional you use can also affect the cost of your divorce proceeding. If you decide to use a lawyer, you should know that their fees are in addition to the legal costs in your province. 

In some provinces like Quebec, amicable divorces can be done through a notary and just like a lawyer, notary fees are added to the legal cost in the province. Experts like psychologists can cost between CA$2000-CA$615000 and you may need them in a contested divorce or custody battle should there be accusations of violence or drug abuse.

Simple Tips

It is good to get legal advice before you apply for a divorce. You should know your rights and responsibilities and have your lawyer tell you in details how the law applies to your situation. 

It will also be best if you and your spouse agree on major issues like; child support, custody, spousal support and property issues before applying for a divorce. This helps to reduce the time, money and stress involved in asking the court to decide on these issues. 

At best, you can decide to reconcile with your partner or seek help before things get out of hand as the effects of divorce both before, during and after can take a huge toll on you and your family as a whole. If it still doesn’t work out, then you should take the amicable approach to divorce to avoid falling into a financial crisis while trying to free yourself from a marital crisis.

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Kareena Maya

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.