It can be a little confusing trying to file for a divorce in Nova Scotia, simply due to the fact that there are different forms for the various courts across the province. Using the wrong form at the wrong court, could result in them not being accepted and may delay your divorce proceedings. It is easy enough to get the forms mixed up since one court is the Supreme Court (Family Division) and the other is the Supreme Court. The following not only outlines the steps to take while filing for a divorce in Nova Scotia, but also the forms you will need depending on what region you are from. For more information on divorce in Canada and other provinces see the flags at the end of the page.
Step 1: Answer The Question: Is this a Contested or Uncontested Divorce?
Simple step. Will there be disagreements or not? Once you know the answer you can move onto the next step depending on what that answer is. Typically there will always be some sort of disagreement, what you need to know is whether or not they have all been resolved or not during the separation period. It can take most couples anywhere from a year to a year and a half to come to an agreement on everything. Once you are in agreement, the divorce would be filed as uncontested. If you cannot reach an agreement by the time you want to file for divorce, then it would be contested.
Uncontested Step 2: File for divorce together or on your own
At this stage you will need to complete all of the paperwork involved and you can either file as a Joint Applicant, where both spouses sign the divorce papers, or you can file by yourself and pay to have your spouse served with the papers. If you are served you only have a month to answer the documents. Regardless of how you file, both spouses will need to obtain Independent Legal Advice to ensure the separation agreement is fair to both sides before proceeding with the divorce process. This means that you will both need to hire your own lawyer.
Form 62.09 if in Halifax, Sydney, or Pork Hawkesbury
Form 59.09 if in Amherst, Annapolis, Antigonish, Bridgewater, Digby, Kentville, Pictou, Truro or Yarmouth
Contested Step 2: Serving the Statement of Claim & Answering
If you have past the one-year waiting period without considering terms of the divorce or creating a separation agreement then you will be proceeding with a contested divorce. You will again both need to hire Independent Legal Advice to ensure both spouses are treated fairly. While most of the time any issues are resolved outside of court, if it does need to go to trial then it could take between two and three years before a divorce becomes final. The paperwork involved here is called a Petition for Divorce and is more expensive than an uncontested divorce.
Step 3: The Waiting Game While the Courts Review Your Application for Divorce
The completed paperwork can be filed with the correct court (see the forms in step 1 to ensure you are using the right documents)! Once you or your lawyer has submitted everything, then the rest is in the courts’ hands. Assuming you are not missing any information, that everything is clear and the courts have all the paperwork they need, it will usually still take a few months before they grant a divorce. It could be noticeably longer if any information is missing and further correspondence is required. You can actually call the courts and ask how long the entire process is expected to take based on how busy they are at that moment.
Step 4: Finalizing the Divorce
Once the court grants the divorce, it is not final or official until 31 days after. Once the one-month waiting period is up, the courts will then grant you a Certificate of Divorce. At that point it is finally official and you can remarry. Definitely don’t make any marriage plans until you have your Divorce Certificate! While it may take a few months to move an uncontested divorce through the courts, the timeline as mentioned above, is much longer if settling a contested divorce in court.
Much of the process can be fairly complicated and we strongly recommend hiring a family law lawyer in Nova Scotia no matter where you are, whether that is Halifax, Antigonish, Cape Breton, Amherst, Yarmouth, it doesn’t matter! There is a lawyer near you that can help with the paperwork and ensure you are filing the correct documents with the right courts.