Do I Have to Go to Court to Get a Divorce?

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The good news is that in some cases, you can get divorced in Nova Scotia without ever setting foot in a court house. As long as you have an agreement on the terms of your divorce you can get a “paperwork-only divorce.” And it is not as expensive as you may think.

The biggest challenge with getting divorced is not the divorce itself but settling the terms of divorce. These are referred to as corollary issues and include parenting and custody issues, property division (Who gets the house?), child support, and spousal support. These are the areas where people can get stuck in a conflict. The terms of your divorce can be set through mediation, negotiation, or by going to court. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the court will decide at a divorce trial. This can be expensive and very stressful. It is also hard to maintain positive relationships with someone you have gone head to head with in court.

Once you have all the issues decided with your spouse you can make an application for an uncontested divorce. If you have a Separation Agreement, then you have already done the most difficult part.

The next step is to gather all the information you or your lawyer will need to complete your application. There is quite a bit of information you will need including:

·         Long form marriage certificate (easy to order online)

·         Recent proof of income and last three years of tax returns

·         Full names, dates of birth for both spouses and all children

·         A fully executed separation agreement

·         Other financial and personal information

Once you have filed all your documents with the court, a judge will review it to make sure everything is in order. If there is paperwork missing, or if the judge has questions they may reject your divorce until they have the information they need.

One of the most common reasons a divorce application is rejected is that the separation agreement is unclear, or that it doesn’t provide adequate child support. Judges are pretty flexible when it comes to adults making their own agreements, but if the child support section doesn’t adequately provide for the children involved, a judge will not grant the divorce.

You can draft a Separation Agreement on your own, or by using a Do it Yourself kit off the internet, but at a bare minimum you owe it to yourself to have a lawyer review it before you sign it.

If you're having an issue related to this topic we'd be happy to help.  You can call us at (902) 826-3070 to set up a meeting or contact us online.  You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.

Peter G. Duke - Associate Lawyer