Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has transitioned to offer remote solutions for all sorts of matters. For couples in the process of filing for divorce in Ontario, the question of whether this process may be completed online or remotely is likely to come up.
To put the mind of those at ease, it is indeed possible to file for divorce remotely. The process can be completed online. Filing remotely can help stifle certain issues. Especially for couples who may be separated and living in different areas or are unable to coordinate a time to get together. The remote solutions offered by the Superior Court of Justice can also be of benefit during COVID-19 restrictions. (If and when it is ill-advised to gather outside of your bubble.)
Most family court documents can be completed and submitted online. This includes joint or simple divorce, as listed by the Superior Court of Justice. Additionally, separation agreements and other domestic contracts can be submitted online.
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Of course, when beginning the process of filing for divorce, it’s best to contact a lawyer prior to filling out the documents. Working alongside a lawyer can be done remotely online. The benefit of seeking out a lawyer remotely is it allows flexibility in your schedule and freedom to find one that fits your needs.
On top of having a lawyer advise you every step of the way, online support tools to help fill out the court forms exist online as well. These can be used at the discretion of those involved and can offer flexible options throughout the process. The Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) offers free online support.
While you can submit and file documents online, there are various restrictions and deadlines in place which are important to be aware of. Depending on the courthouse and/or jurisdiction, these restrictions and deadlines may vary. This is just one of the further ways in which retaining a lawyer can be beneficial. If you are proceeding on your own, it is best to contact the courthouse directly. That way you can determine the structure and expectations you have to abide by.
Court attendance may also be required in certain scenarios. Issues may arise where a divorce can be delayed or prevented. In the event that this occurs, in-person attendance may be required. However, as the landscape of the pandemic continues to fluctuate, the Superior Court of Justice is operating on a hybrid system. This means depending on the scenario and where you live, remote hearings through Zoom or otherwise may be available.
If there are no issues following your remote submissions, communications with the court will proceed via email as the process unfolds. After using the online filing portal you will receive a confirmation that your materials have been received. Whether via the portal or via email submission, you will receive a follow up correspondence. This will indicate whether your documents were accepted or rejected, with reasons provided for any rejections.
If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact Shulman & Partners at (416) 661-2777 or message us here. We will be more than happy to assist you.