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How Does Divorce Work in Ontario

Whether you are already making plans to get divorced or you are considering the possibility of divorce in Ontario in the future, it is important to understand how divorce works in Ontario. While you can seek a separation agreement or a court order to resolve certain issues that might be central to your reasons for divorce, only a divorce can legally end your marriage. When you do get divorced, a wide range of issues will be decided, including the division of your assets and debts, child parenting time and decision-making responsibility, and other important matters. 

Divorce issues in Ontario are governed by the Divorce Act, but our Ottawa divorce lawyers can provide you with some of the key information you need about how divorce works in Ontario.

No-Fault Divorce in Canada

Divorces in Ontario are no-fault divorces, which means that neither party will have to show that fault has occurred in order to get divorced. Instead, living apart for at least one year is sufficient for getting divorced in Canada.

Division of Assets and Debts

Assets and debts from the marriage will need to be divided as part of the divorce, and Ontario  law requires that these assets and debts be divided equally based on their value. The type of property that will be divided in value during your Ottawa divorce will include, in most cases, any assets that are earned during the marriage (or that grew in value during the marriage), as well as debts accrued during the marriage (as well as a result of debts that existed at date of marriage). In most circumstances, except notably for the matrimonial home, the value of assets owned at the date of marriage is able to be protected. 

In order for property to be divided, equalization payments must be determined. In order to do that, each of the spouses first must calculate individual net family property, or NFP. To calculate NFP, the following must occur, with some notably extensions that can take place:

  • Each spouse will individually add together the value of their property;
  • Each spouse will subtract any debts; and
  • Each spouse will also subtract the value of their property acquired prior to the marriage and add the debts they had at date of marriage to determine the final NFP. 

For property acquired during the marriage that is owned jointly, you should put half of that value into your NFP calculation. When a spouse has an NFP amount that is a negative figure, then the spouse will have an NFP of zero. For equalization to occur, the spouse who has the higher NFP will make payments to the spouse with the lower NFP until the parties have an equal value of the property. It is important to know that the matrimonial home is considered separately.

Child Custody (Child Decision-Making) in an Ontario Divorce

If you and your spouse have children from your marriage and they are still minors, your child custody case may be part of the divorce case. Usually it’s preferable that spouses reach an agreement through mediation, negotiation, or collaborative family law.

Contact Our Divorce Lawyers in Ottawa

Do you have questions about divorce in Ontario, or do you need assistance with one or more aspects of your divorce case? An experienced and dedicated Ottawa divorce lawyer at our firm can begin working with you on your case. Contact RPB Family Law for more information about the divorce and family law services we provide to clients in Ottawa.