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Divorcing without using a lawyer

There is nothing in Canadian or provincial/territorial law that requires a couple that is divorcing to use lawyers to get divorced.

Uncontested divorce

If it’s an agreed upon divorce where the couple agree on all issues and (usually) children are not involved, it’s possible to obtain a relatively simple divorce.

This is what is called an “uncontested” divorce. You still have to be separated for a minimum of one full year (depending on province or territory) before you can file for an uncontested divorce. Note: if you reunite for more than 90 days (depending on province or territory) during the separation period, then you will have to start the separation period all over again.

You’ll have to file paperwork in a court of your province or territory and make sure you observe all the requirements and rules in order for your uncontested divorce to be processed.

This type of divorce is only available if parties agree on all terms of their divorce; including financial, property division, debts and assets and issues dealing with children (if the couple had children). If there is disagreement on issues, the parties cannot file for an uncontested divorce.

Usually with an uncontested divorce, court proceedings are avoided and it’s a lot quicker and cheaper than a contested divorce.

Contested divorce

Going through a contested divorce without a lawyer is a great deal more difficult.

A contested divorce is one in which the former couple disagree with some or all of the issues that are involved in their divorce. The most contested issues are usually who gets custody and access of the children and how property/finances are divided.

There are a lot of legal issues involved in contested divorce and it’s often difficult to navigate the legal system. The rules for property division and custody and access are contained in legislation for each province or territory. If a person is not going to be represented by a lawyer, he or she should at least look up these statutes and become familiar with the rules.

Though you may not be required to have a lawyer handling your divorce, it’s usually a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer in regards to your divorce. If a person is unable to afford a lawyer to handle their divorce, then sometimes there is legal aid that is offered by the province. However, there are usually income and other requirements the party has to fulfill before they can qualify.

If your divorce is contentious and/or children are involved and you cannot come to an agreement with your former spouse, it’s usually a good idea to get a lawyer. At the very least, it’s a good idea to get some legal advice from a lawyer in regards to the divorce.

Read more:

How to Apply for a Divorce

Uncontested v. Contested Divorce