The In’s and Out’s of Serving Divorce Papers in the Greater Toronto Area

Ending a marriage is a painful situation for almost anyone. A major part of your life is coming to a close and the last thing you want to worry about is the legal hassles.

Yet, dealing with court cases is an unavoidable part of taking this step into a new phase of your life. One stage of this process that most people underestimate is the serving of divorce papers.

With 40% of Canadian marriages expecting to end in divorce before the couple reach their 50th anniversary, there is, unfortunately, a high chance that many people would find the need to familiarize themselves with the divorce process.

Serving Papers in The Greater Toronto Area

When it comes to divorce proceedings in Canada, there are different rules applicable to different provinces. This is also for the case of serving the legal documents of your divorce to your spouse.

Serving papers refers to the official serving of legal documents to the party that is being sued, or in this case, divorced. It serves as a legal notification for your spouse that a case has been opened and they must present themselves in court to carry it forward.

In the case of the Greater Toronto Area, or in fact, all of Ontario, you cannot serve your spouse divorce papers on your own. You must make it happen through a third party over the age of 18 years for the serving process to be considered completely valid.

While you can choose to do this through any third party, it is always preferable to go with a process server to ensure that all guidelines and laws are followed effectively. You can also find information about the requirements that need to be met during the serving process by going through the website for Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General.

Does Your Marriage Qualify For A Divorce?

The first step for ending a marriage would be to ensure that it qualifies for a divorce.

In order to qualify for a divorce, you and your spouse must declare that the marriage has been broken for at least a year. This does not necessarily mean living apart. In fact, you could even be sharing a residence with your spouse during the entirety of this year due to financial issues or any other reasons.

All you and your spouse have to do is attest that regardless of the circumstances, the marriage has been broken for a year.

How Does the Divorce Process Work?

Once you have made sure that divorce is possible, it is best to consult your lawyer to get an idea about the legal documents you would need to compile. These would depend on the type of your divorce as well as related issues such as child custody, alimony, and spousal abuse. 

Based on the recommendations of your lawyer, you will have to visit your local Ontario courthouse for family cases to submit all the papers you have gathered for beginning the divorce process. In the Greater Toronto Area, these courthouses are located at:

  • 311 Jarvis Street
  • 361 University Avenue
  • 47 Sheppard Avenue East

It is always preferable that you call ahead in advance so that you can confirm all the legal documents and their copies that you would be needing. It would also allow you to find out the method of payment that the courthouse accepts since you will have to pay a small fee to begin the legal proceedings.

Once your documents have been approved by the courthouse clerk and the case has been opened, you will be instructed to serve the divorce papers to your spouse which is where process servers would come in.

What Are the Types of Divorces?

There are two types of divorce proceedings that take place in Canada:

1. Uncontested Divorce

In this type of divorce, there are no related issues causing friction between the spouses such as child custody, distribution of financial assets, etc. They can be simple, where one spouse serves the papers to another, or joint, where both spouses apply together.

2. Contested Divorce

Contested divorces are those divorces where issues such as custody disagreements do not allow the divorce proceedings to go about smoothly. In fact, this disagreement can be about the divorce itself where one spouse may not be ready to end the marriage.

What If Your Partner is Avoiding Being Served?

Getting legal papers served is a big step in onsetting the proceedings for any type of case. As a result, there are instances where your partner may try to hide or move away in order to avoid being served.

One of the reasons why process servers are the best choice is because they make things a lot easier in such a situation. They utilize skip tracing, which is the process of tracing someone who has ‘skipped’, to track down your spouse and serve the papers.

If your spouse is unable to be tracked even by a process server, you may raise this issue in court. In this case, the court would recommend some alternative method to get the papers served successfully. This is called substitute serving.

Choose Your Legal Help Wisely

Serving papers is a crucial step in your road to divorce. You need to make sure that you comply with all rules so that your spouse cannot contest your efforts of officially notifying them about the process.

With process servers, you can achieve this without worrying yourself with reading up about the rules. It also helps you stay protected in case you would not prefer to face your spouse.

Choose legal help that makes this difficult stage of your life as easy as possible so that you can move on to a new phase very soon!