Vaughan Divorce Lawyers

A divorce is the final stage of a married couple’s separation process and is governed by the federal Divorce Act. It is the court order that legally terminates the marriage after most other issues between the parties have been resolved by a separation agreement or court order.

Our experienced family lawyers at GDH Family Law, we have dedicated our careers to the practice of family law. We understand a divorce order can eliminate the uncertainty between separated spouses and help them move forward. Our team gets to know the unique details of each family’s circumstances and creates bespoke legal strategies designed to finalize each divorce matter as efficiently and conflict-free as possible.

Establishing a Breakdown of the Marriage

Separated spouses must demonstrate a “breakdown of the marriage” before a divorce order can be granted. This requires the spouses to have lived “separate and apart” for at least one year before applying to the court for a divorce.

Couples do not necessarily need to live in different homes to be considered “separate and apart”. Some separated spouses choose to both stay in the family home for financial reasons or to give their children time to adjust to the new family dynamic. Determining whether a couple is living “separate and apart” requires consideration of all circumstances to ascertain whether they live their lives independently; for example, they no longer socialize together, maintain independent daily schedules, or sleep in separate rooms.

The requirement to live separate and apart for one year may be waived in certain circumstances involving adultery or cruelty. As discussed below, these grounds are rarely used to fast-track the dissolution of the marriage, and most divorces are granted on a “no-fault” basis (that is, after a one-year separation period).

Adultery

When there has been an incident of adultery in a marriage, it may be used in very limited situations as justification to skip the one-year separation period. It may only be raised by the spouse who did not commit adultery.

In order to seek an immediate divorce, the adultery must be proven to the court. From an evidence standpoint, this can be onerous and may unnecessarily escalate the conflict between the parties, drawing out the litigation beyond even the normal one-year separation period.

Cruelty

To be accepted as a valid reason to waive the separation period, a spouse’s cruelty must be so grave as to make it impossible for the couple to continue living together. A single incident is not generally sufficient unless it was extreme in nature. The cruelty must have caused severe trauma to the victim spouse’s mental or physical health.

As with adultery, cruelty is rarely used to expedite a divorce, given its emotional nature and potential to complicate the legal proceedings.

Simple vs. Joint Divorce Applications

In Ontario, spouses can file for divorce through a simple or joint divorce application process. In a joint divorce, the spouses file together and have usually reached an agreement on all the issues involved in their case (parenting, support, and/or property division). A judge reviews the documentation and, if satisfied with the evidence, will grant the divorce. The spouses may not even be required to appear in court.

In a simple divorce, one spouse usually makes the application, which only requests a divorce order. If the other spouse does not respond to the application, the divorce is uncontested (see below) and will be granted once the judge is satisfied with the evidence.

In some cases, the respondent spouse will file a response disagreeing with the filing spouse’s claims. This initiates a contested divorce (see below), which is a more complicated and time-consuming process than an uncontested divorce.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

Once a married couple has been living separate and apart for one year, they may file for a divorce order under the Divorce Act.

A divorce is classified as uncontested where there are no unresolved legal issues between the spouses. Any issues relating to spousal or child support, division of property, or parenting matters have already been determined, usually through a separation agreement.

In a contested divorce, the parties have not yet agreed on all of the legal issues and may need to take the matter to trial to have a judge decide for them.

Separation Agreements

A separation agreement documents the parties’ agreed-upon terms regarding child and spousal support, parenting time and decision-making responsibility, division of property, and any other outstanding issues involved in their separation.

Separated spouses can create these agreements through negotiation or mediation. When the parties can mutually decide their own family law issues, it simplifies the divorce process and lessens the need for litigation in court. Crafting the terms of a couple’s separation and divorce through an alternative dispute resolution process like mediation allows the parties more input and control over the outcome instead of having a matter decided by an arbitrator or judge.

Some cases, however, benefit from a more formal approach and are therefore best handled in the courtroom.

Customizable Legal Solutions for Your Divorce

Our team at GDH Family Law creates legal strategies that are tailor-made for each client’s circumstances and skillfully advocates for our client’s interests in any forum. Whether you require comprehensive full-service representation throughout your divorce or à la carte assistance, our team provides flexible solutions custom-tailored to fit your specific needs. We offer comprehensive legal solutions for clients who prefer us to handle all aspects of their separation and divorce. Alternatively, we offer unbundled, stand-alone legal services to our clients as needed.

Contact GDH Family Law in Vaughan for Representation in Divorce Proceedings

At GDH Family Law, we provide empathetic and experienced representation for clients seeking a divorce. We get to know the unique details of your family’s situation and find the best forum in which to resolve your outstanding legal issues. No matter how much or how little support you need in your divorce proceedings, we can help.

Our team of family lawyers understands the importance of quickly finalizing your divorce with as little conflict as possible. Where matters are best handled through litigation, our lawyers are a commanding force in the courtroom and will zealously advocate on your behalf.

GDH Family Law is based in Vaughan and represents clients throughout Maple, Concord, Woodbridge, Markham, Kleinburg, Richmond Hill, Nobleton, Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, Etobicoke, North York, Thornhill, Oakville,  and King City. For a free initial consultation on your family matter, contact us at 416-535-6944 or reach out online.