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Divorces proceed by way of application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.   Depending on the intentions of the parties, a divorce application can be completed as either a "joint" or a "sole" application.  A joint application involves the parties coming to an agreement that they each want a divorce.  The sole application is chosen for instances where either only one party desires a divorce or where there are contested issues between the parties.

Quite often, individuals file their own divorce applications at the court and then learn that certain procedures need to be followed, certain documents need to be filed and certain extra steps need to be completed.   When the custody and support of children, spousal support, the possession of the matrimonial home/assets and equalization of family property is at issue, it is important to do things properly and wisely. 

Each individual's / couple's situation is unique and should be examined carefully by a lawyer when proceeding with a divorce Application or Answer.  Individuals should be cautioned that it is now impermissible for family law cases including divorce to be commenced in Ontario by non-practicing lawyers.  A company or individual who is not licensed to perform your case does not have the training or authorization to complete your divorce.  Oftentimes there are complications that arise in a case due to negligence or inexperience.  These mistakes can be very serious, sometimes causing a party to lose rights to claims that have limitation periods, making claims that cannot be substantiated pursuant to the law or taking an individual only part way through a process that will require a lawyer to complete or remedy the matter.  It is always recommended that you use a lawyer that has the knowledge and expertise to carry your matter.  Lawyers also have mandatory malpractice/negligence insurance that provides an added protection to a client in case of any mistake. 

Legal Fees

UNCONTESTED DIVORCES - $499.99 + court fees ($167.00 application fee, $280.00 divorce motion fee)

- oftentimes there are issues of locating one of the parties in a divorce.  It is often presumed that with the passage of time that a divorce will be uncontested.  That may be the case, but the Family Law Rules require that the responding party be served with a copy of the Application.  At that time, the divorce may in fact be uncontested, or the responding party may make a claim that requires a Reply and that causes the divorce to become contested on some issues. 

- if your case is one where you cannot locate the other party for purposes of service, the Family Law Rules require that you take all reasonable steps possible to locate that person for purposes of service.  If after doing so, the responding party still cannot be located, there are provisions in the Family Law Rules permitting Motions for substituted service or dispensing with service altogether.  These procedures are extra and are not included in the uncontested divorce fee.  My general practice is that they add an expense of 1-2 hours of legal fees ($250.00 - $500.00) to your case.

CONTESTED DIVORCES - $250.00 per hour plus HST with number of hours depending on nature of case.

- although all clients would like to have a ballpark figure for what their divorce is going to cost them in legal fees, it is often very difficult to do so at the outset of a matter.  In bringing an Application, your lawyer cannot ascertain the response and claims of the responding party.  They could do nothing, or in some cases they can make claim for as many as 5-10 different family law claims that will require you as Applicant to draft a response and to deal with such issues in the court context.  There have been articles in newspapers stating that heavily contested divorces can cost as much as $30,000 - $50,000.  The majority of my divorce cases come in at about one-tenth (1/10th) of that cost, but as stated previously, all estimates and actual legal costs will depend upon each unique fact scenario.  One thing is for certain and that is that if you are unable to arrive at a separation agreement with your spouse  and there are unresolved issues that cannot be negotiated, your divorce will have significant cost.  You should be prepared for that and you should have serious cost-conscientious conversations with your lawyer about how extensive you wish to challenge certain claims.    

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                                                                  Last modified: April 25, 2011 10:24 PM