Can You Get a Divorce in Canada Without a Lawyer?

Getting a divorce can be a difficult step to take in life. It can be highly stressful for both spouses, especially when dividing your assets or deciding who gets custody of your children. Therefore, you may be wondering, can you get a divorce in Canada without a lawyer?

Let’s find the answer in this article.

Can You Get a Divorce in Canada Without a Lawyer?

Yes, couples who decide to have an uncontested divorce can make the process much more straightforward and thus can be completed without a lawyer. But if they disagree on any factors of the divorce, they will need the courts to decide.

So what is an uncontested divorce?

For an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse have to agree on every aspect of the divorce, including the division of family property, custody of children, and child support and alimony that must be paid. In such cases, you can complete your divorce without a lawyer.

But, it is essential for both spouses to fully understand their rights and any obligations they may have before accepting the terms of a divorce.

Therefore, it is preferable to have an amicable and uncontested resolution to minimize divorce costs in Canada.

However, suppose you and your spouse are in a disagreement in aspects of a divorce, including property, spousal support, parenting and access, child support, etc. In that case, you may require the help of a mediator, arbitrator, or lawyer if the circumstances demand it. This type of divorce is called a contested divorce.

Requirements to Apply for Divorce in Canada

To divorce in Canada, you must apply in court. There are also a few criteria that you must meet as well:

  • You are legally married under Canadian Laws or under laws of another country that Canada recognizes
  • Your Marriage has broken down
  • You have lived with your spouse in the province in which you are applying for at least a year

What Are the Grounds for Divorce?

Canada has no-fault divorce, meaning only one of three things must be proven to file for divorce as per the divorce act. They are:


Separation is while you have been apart from your spouse for a minimum of 1 year. You can begin the divorce process before the one-year period has elapsed. However, you have to wait until the year has passed before filing for divorce.

Besides, you and your spouse can remain living in the same home during separation years. However, you must provide evidence that you were separated during that time.


If your spouse commits adultery, you can file for divorce as soon as it becomes noticed. However, you must provide to prove adultery. A signed affidavit or any physical evidence supporting the claim is required to prove adultery and get divorced on those grounds.


Cruelty only needs to occur once for it to be valid grounds for divorce. Cruelty is when a spouse commits either physical or mental cruelty to the other spouse in the form of violence, constant verbal abuse, drunkenness, and excessive drug use.

The cruelty must be so severe to live together. However, evidence is required to prove that cruelty took place.

If the divorce application is based on a one-year separation, you can live together for 90 days to attempt to reconcile. If it doesn’t work out, you can continue with the divorce.

How do I Begin the Divorce Process?

Before starting divorce proceedings, it is recommended that you should take legal advice from a family law expert. If the circumstances of your divorce are complex, a family lawyer can help you navigate it while protecting your rights.

To begin your divorce process, you must:

  • Fill out a divorce application
  • Apply at a courthouse
  • Pay the fees
  • Follow the court rule and procedures

How Long Will It Take to Complete the Divorce Process?

The length of a divorce is shorter when it comes to uncontested divorces. In the case of contested divorces, it takes longer the more complexities there are. The factors that determine the length of the divorce process include:

  • Grounds for divorce:

It may be a long process to find the required proof. The ground of separation of one year is easiest to prove.

  • Presence of children: 

Canada has strict laws regarding divorce when children are involved. Suppose arrangements for custody and support are not satisfactory, and spouses cannot agree on a solution. In that case, the court has the power to ‘stay’ or suspend the divorce until a better arrangement is made.

  • Paperwork:

Divorce documentation can be a lengthy process as there is a lot of paperwork.

  • Administrative delays:

There are delays built into the process that will affect the time it takes complete divorce proceedings. A divorce order takes 31 days to become official


Divorce proceedings in Canada can certainly be done without the help of a lawyer, but that is only true when the case is straightforward, uncontested, and amicable. However, if the case involves disputes involving children, alimony, property, etc., the help of a lawyer is a must, or else you may find yourself with the shorter end of the stick.

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