How Long Does A Divorce Take In Ontario If One Party Doesn’t Agree?

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If you’re considering a divorce, you must know that it is a complex and emotionally taxing process, especially when one party doesn’t agree. In Ontario, the timeline for such divorces varies based on the level of cooperation between the parties, the complexity of the issues, and the court’s schedule. 

If both parties are cooperative, divorce takes 4-6 months if there’s no court involvement. If it is a contested divorce, it can take up to a year and sometimes even more. This blog provides an overview of the divorce process in Ontario when one party does not agree. Continue reading… 

Understanding the Divorce Process in Ontario

In Ontario, the divorce process typically starts when one party files an application for divorce. It can be either a joint application, where both parties agree to the divorce, or a sole application, where only one party initiates the process. 

When one party disagrees with the divorce or any related issues such as child custody, support, or property division, the process can become contested. You can expect a  longer timeline and potentially higher costs. 

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Factors Affecting the Timeline

  1. Service of Documents: After filing the divorce application, the applicant must serve the other party with the divorce papers. If the other party evades service or disputes the service, this step can cause delays.
  2. Response Time: The responding party has 30 days to file an answer to the divorce application. If they fail to respond within this period, the applicant may request a divorce order by default. However, if the responding party files an answer and contests the divorce, the process moves to the next stage.
  3. Case Conferences: If the divorce is contested, the court will schedule case conferences to help the parties resolve issues. These conferences can take several months to schedule, which adds to the overall timeline.
  4. Discovery Process: Both parties may need to exchange financial information and other relevant documents. Sometimes, the other party can be uncooperative, especially if it concerns financial matters. 
  5. Motions and Hearings: Either party can file motions to resolve interim issues, such as temporary child support or custody arrangements, which require court hearings. 
  6. Settlement Conferences and Trial: If the parties cannot reach an agreement through case conferences and mediation, the court will schedule a settlement conference. If settlement efforts fail, the case proceeds to trial. Trials can take months or even years to schedule and complete, depending on the court’s availability and the complexity of the issues. At this point, you can consider yourself separated but can always reconcile and withdraw the case. 

Costs Involved in Contested Divorces

When it comes to contested divorces, you have two categories of expenses – court fees and legal fees. Court fees are paid in two stages – $212 upon filing the application and $420 when you have a date set for hearing. 

Legal fees are further divided into fees for witnesses, fees for mediators, and family lawyers. All together, it can cost you $15,000 to $50,000. 

Strategies to Expedite the Process

While some delays in a contested divorce are unavoidable, there are strategies that can help expedite the process:

  1. Effective Communication: Open and honest communication between the parties can help resolve disputes more quickly and avoid unnecessary delays. Make sure all communication occurs through both parties’ family lawyers. 
  2. Mediation and Negotiation: Engaging in mediation or negotiation can help the parties reach a settlement without the need for a lengthy trial. 
  3. Timely Document Exchange: Promptly exchanging financial and other relevant documents can speed up the discovery process.
  4. Compliance with Court Orders: Following court orders and deadlines can prevent delays caused by additional motions or hearings.

If you are considering a divorce and need legal advice, our qualified family lawyers in Brampton are here to guide you through the process. Please reach out to schedule a free consultation (up to 15 minutes only).

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