People seek divorces for many reasons:
- People grow apart
- They suddenly wake up to the reality that they are no longer in love
- One (or both) partners has an affair
- One spouse abuses the other
- Life circumstances intervene: One spouse wants to move to a new location, take a new job, or pursue a passion that the other spouse does not support
Sometimes, it is a combination of many things. It’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact beginning-of-the-end.
Making the decision to leave a partner is never an easy one, and it can become much more difficult if the other person does not want the relationship to end.
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Indeed, some partners try to stop a divorce, either by suggesting marriage counselling, or delaying the divorce process once they are aware that their partner wants out. But can someone in Ontario really stop a divorce from happening?
The short answer is no.
Divorce Can Be Obtained Unilaterally
Under Canadian law, there is no requirement that both spouses must agree to divorce before it can happen. So, your ex does not need your participation to legally divorce you.
As long as he or she files the correct documents with the court, and provides you with the required notice, the divorce can go forward, even against your will.
This means none of the following actions/inactions will stop a divorce from happening:
- Refusing to move out of the matrimonial home you shared with your ex
- Failing to respond to divorce papers that have been filed and served on you by your ex
- Failing to file your own response to your ex’s divorce materials
- Not showing up for a court hearing in your divorce litigation
How Can My Ex Get A Divorce Without Me?
Under Canadian law, there is a simple threshold for when a divorce can be obtained. Your ex needs to show that there has been a “breakdown of the marriage,” which involves three possible grounds:
- Separation (with no fault attributed). This means you and your ex have been separated from each other for at least one full year.
- Adultery. This requires your ex to prove that you have committed adultery since your wedding.
- Cruelty. This requires your ex to prove that since your wedding, you have treated him or her with “physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable” your continued cohabitation.
Most people will select the first option and go through a one-year separation.
Do I Have Any Options?
Even though you can’t stop an unwanted divorce, there are some things that you can do to try to make the marriage work. If your ex is willing to go, you can try marriage counselling.
If those efforts fail, then it is best for all parties to try and work towards an amicable divorce.
Why Should I Cooperate?
If your ex is determined to go ahead with a divorce against your wishes, your next-best option is to optimize the outcome of the divorce for yourself. This can include:
- Negotiating a separation agreement with your ex, ideally with the help of an experienced family lawyer
- Familiarizing yourself with the upcoming divorce process, and hiring a lawyer as soon as possible to help you with the steps in the litigation
- Participating in formal mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods with him or her
Remember, your ex will get a divorce order, but if you are constantly fighting and delaying the process, the outcome of the divorce will likely suit his or her wants and needs.