In order to file for divorce in Canada you or your spouse must be residing in the province where you file at the time of filing and for the past 12 months. If one of you meets this requirement either of you can file for divorce in that province.
Divorce procedure in the province of Quebec is not addressed here. Some of this information applies in Quebec and some does not.
Meeting the residency requirement is all you need to be allowed to file for a divorce – but other conditions must be met before your divorce will be granted. Until these other conditions are met, your divorce will not be granted.
What are these conditions? One of these three things is needed:
- A spouse committed adultery and the other did not forgive him or her.
- A spouse has been cruel to the other (physically or mentally) and the other did not forgive him or her.
- The spouses have been living separate and apart for at least 12 months.
Divorces based on adultery of cruelty are nearly always contested, messy, and time-consuming proceedings. That is why almost all divorces, even when there has been cruelty or adultery, are based on the 12 months of separation.
You can read about these things for yourself in the Divorce Act.
It is important to note that you can still be residing under the same roof and be considered living separate and apart as long as you have truly stopped acting as a married couple – you no longer do things together like eating or sleeping or going out in public together, you have at least started to separate your finances and property, etc.
Where you were married does not matter. Your citizenship does not matter. The only requirement is that you or your spouse live in a Canadian province at the time of filing and for the past 12 months.
Even though divorce throughout Canada is governed by the federal Divorce Act, the way it is administered is determined by each individual province and territory. Therefore, the documents and procedures are very different depending on the jurisdiction in which you file for divorce. Visit the following pages for detailed information about divorce procedure in the various provinces:
Divorce New Brunswick
Divorce Prince Edward Island
Divorce Nova Scotia