About Divorce

In Canada, the only way for a married couple to complete dissolve the bonds of marriage is through a divorce. Divorce is granted either on the terms agreed by the spouses or following a trial before a judge.

The three grounds for divorce

Under the federal Divorce Act This hyperlink will open in a new window., a divorce may be granted following the breakdown of a marriage. A marriage is deemed to have broken down when:

  • the spouses have lived apart for at least one year, and are living apart when the judgement for divorce is pronounced;
  • one of the spouses applies for divorce because the other spouse has been unfaithful (has committed adultery);
  • the spouse applying for divorce has been treated by the other spouses with physical or mental cruelty of a kind that makes continued cohabitation intolerable.

Who can apply for divorce?

After a couple has been separated for at least one year, one of the spouses can apply for divorce, even if the other spouse does not agree. 

However, in applications based on adultery or physical or mental cruelty, only the alleged victim may apply for a divorce.

General notice

Regulation to amend the Regulation of the Superior Court of Québec in family matters

The parties in a family law case must attest to whether or not they are subject to:

  • A civil protection order under section 509 of the Code of Civil Procedure or a request related to such an order;
  • An order, application, agreement or decision related to youth protection;
  • An order, indictment, undertaking or recognizance related to a criminal matter.

Parties who fall into any of the above situations must file a notice with the court office and, if applicable, attach documentary evidence. The same applies if the situation changes in the course of proceedings.

Applying for divorce

Before filing an application for divorce, spouses may use the services of a mediator. There are two ways to submit an application for divorce, according to the spouses agree or not. 

If the spouses agree 

If both spouses agree, they can divorce amicably by presenting a joint application for divorce on a draft agreement. 

If the spouses fail to agree 

If the spouses fail to agree, they must apply individually. There are no procedures for models such as the joint application for divorce on a draft agreement. 

If they want help, they can consult a legal adviser.

Obtaining a court judgment of divorce

A divorce application must be filed with the Superior Court in the judicial district where the spouses have their joint residence or, if the couple no longer live together, in the district in which one of the spouses lives.

If the two spouses agree on the terms of their divorce, they may apply for an amicable divorce.

Cost of proceedings for legal separation or divorce

The fee for filing an application for legal separation or divorce may be paid:

  • in cash;
  • by debit or credit card;
  • by certified cheque;
  • by postal order or bank order made out to the Minister of Finance of Québec.

The fees are indexed on January 1 each year and are listed in the Tariff of Court Costs This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Federal registration fee

In the case of an application for divorce, a fee of $10 is payable for registration in the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings kept by Justice Canada This hyperlink will open in a new window.

The fee may be paid:

  • in cash;
  • by debit or credit card;
  • by certified cheque;
  • by postal order or bank order made out to the Receiver General for Canada when the application is filed.

Gifts at a divorce

It is important to note that:

  • a divorce does not cancel gifts made to the spouses in consideration of their marriage;
  • gifts made between living persons (inter vivos) or in the event of death, as set out in the marriage contract, may be annulled, amended or maintained by the judge.

Last update: April 12, 2023


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