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What Happens When My Spouse Refuses to Respond to Divorce Papers?

January 19, 2019   |   Tanya Davies   |   blog
Respond to Divorce Papers
Respond to Divorce Papers

What Happens When My Spouse Refuses to Respond to Divorce Papers?

For many people, the prospect of divorce can be a stressful period of time in their lives. Things can become even more complicated when your spouse refuses to respond to the initial divorce papers you filed through your divorce lawyer and had served. Your entire life can seem like it is in limbo because you cannot proceed with the separation agreement, division of property agreement, and other aspects of the divorce process.

In some cases, your spouse may even refuse to leave the matrimonial home in hopes of a reconciliation. Some people have a difficult time accepting their marriage is over and acknowledging the divorce papers would be against what they currently believe. However in Canada, you do not need your spouse’s consent to obtain your divorce.

The process will be a bit more detailed and involved because you still have to demonstrate to the court the marriage is over. Section 8(2) of Canada’s Divorce Act specify three grounds for granting a divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Living Separate and Apart for at Least One Year
  • Cruelty

Any of these reasons will allow you to still obtain your divorce. For most people, living separate and apart for at least one year will be the most common way to obtain their divorce. The other two reasons will require providing evidence to the court to establish your grounds and that will require either affidavit materials or a trial in some form

What If My Spouse Will Not Move Out of the Matrimonial Home?

The courts recognize situations where your spouse could refuse to move out of the matrimonial home when they are refusing to respond to divorce papers. As long as you and your spouse are living separate lives, then the court will still grant the divorce.

Living separate and apart means that you and your spouse no longer participate in activities, social outings, or other things couples typically do. You essentially have your own life which no longer includes them in any manner. In divorce situations where there are minor children involved, the only interactions you will have is in regards to rearing your children and sharing parental responsibilities.

What If My Spouse Takes Off and Disappears?

Some people may think if they take off and make it impossible for their spouse to find them, they will be able to stop the divorce. This is not the case in Canada. For this type of divorce, your divorce lawyer will request an order for substituted service from the court.

Once issued, the order will detail the steps you must take to attempt to locate your spouse and make them aware of the divorce proceedings. If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse and have made every effort to locate them, the court will still grant you a divorce.

As evident, even in cases where your spouse refuses to respond to divorce papers, you can still obtain a divorce in Canada. If it is clear that your spouse has been served with materials and is simply refusing to respond, you may also be able to obtain relief from the court for other aspects of your claim, including costs. Bottom line: it is NEVER a good idea to ignore divorce materials.

For assistance in filing for divorce or addressing issues with a nonresponsive spouse, please feel free to contact Davies Law Firm at (613) 688-0462 to arrange a consultation appointment today!

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