This chart will help you understand the basic process of divorce or separation.
Step 1: Service of Commencement Document – this commencement document can be a Statement of Claim for Divorce (and Division of Matrimonial Property) or a Claim under the Family Law Act (Common Law situations). This document starts the Court process. Commencement documents are personally handed to the opposing party (service of document) by a neutral third party or Process Server. The person who starts this process is called either a “Plaintiff” or “Applicant”. **Watch for pre-requisites that need to be completed BEFORE you start a Court application. The Parenting After Separation course may be a mandatory first step for you.
Step 2: Notice/Service Time – allows the opposing party to respond to the commencement document within a set amount of time. Timelines vary depending on what commencement document you use. The person responding is usually called “Defendant” or “Respondent”.
Step 3: Defendant/Respondent’s Response – the Defendant/Respondent provides his/her response to the commencement document to the Plaintiff/Applicant. Typically this document may be a Statement of Defence (and Counterclaim) or Responding documents under The Family Law Act.
Step 4: Exchange of Information and Documentation – both the Plaintiff/Applicant and the Defendant/Respondent should exchange all relevant information to each other especially if this information will be presented in Court.
Step 5: Negotiations – typically after step 4 is completed and prior to a Court application or trial date, it is beneficial to negotiate a settlement. If this is possible, it will save everyone a lot of money and stress. Please refer to our “Get Help” section for more information.
**Unfortunately in high conflict divorce or separation, steps 4 (Exchange of Information) and 5 (Negotiation) are filled with strife. Often the parties are stuck in these steps and cannot move to resolution without a multitude of Court Orders and Court applications.**