Can You Afford to Get Divorced in Canada? Understanding the Cost



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Cost of Getting A Divorce in Canada

Marriages are meant to be life-long partnerships, and it takes a lot of sacrifices and effort to make them work. But divorce happens when things do not go as planned, and one or both spouses decide to call it quits. 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, and 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 settling. However, the longer a divorce takes, the more money is 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 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 are separated, you will need a lawyer to tell you the factors that courts consider when deciding 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 process of getting a divorce. You will need to fill out the right forms for your province or territory and file them in court, or your lawyer can do this for you. Depending on your province, you may also need to pay an application fee.

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 Canadian law or under the laws of another country recognized in Canada.
  • The marriage has broken down
  • Both or either of the spouses lived in a province in Canada where they applied for divorce for a year immediately before applying for the divorce.

Documents Needed

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

  • Original marriage certificate

You will be required to provide your original marriage certificate or a certified copy of the marriage registration. 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, you could retrieve your marriage certificate from or if married in the United States. If you were married in neither of the countries mentioned above, you would need to apply for your original marriage certificate or a certified copy of the marriage registration 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 marriage certificate is 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 the 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 divorce is filled. Any additional fees are paid before the court reviews the divorce case.

Note that the above fees are not the only cost 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 and lawyer fees, 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 and 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 of 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 a lot of money. In this type of divorce, the couple cannot agree on the grounds and terms of their divorce. 

It is expensive as the decisions are left to the court and lawyers. It also takes a 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. Both parties file the application, 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.

Who Pays for Divorce in Canada?

In Canada, the cost of a divorce is typically paid for by both parties involved. The exact cost will depend on various factors such as the complexity of the case, whether or not it is contested, and whether or not a lawyer is involved.

It is possible for one party to be ordered to pay the legal fees of the other party if they have significantly more financial resources or if there are specific circumstances that warrant it, but this is not always the case. It’s important for individuals considering divorce to consult with a family lawyer to understand their specific situation and what costs they can expect to incur.

What is the Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce in Canada?

The cheapest way to get a divorce in Canada would be through an uncontested divorce where both parties agree on the terms of the divorce and are able to complete the paperwork themselves without the need for legal representation. This typically involves filing the appropriate forms with the court and paying a filing fee, which can vary by province.

Some couples may also choose to use a mediator or other alternative dispute resolution method to help them reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. It is important to note that the cost of a divorce can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the issues involved and the need for legal assistance.

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 detail 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, 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.