Tying the knot is one of the happiest moments in everyone’s life. Both spouses, their families, and friends look forward to a bright future awaiting those who promised each other love, faithfulness, and mutual respect. But, some marriages do not live up to that expectations and fall apart. When the marriage crisis overwhelms mutual affection, divorce seems inevitable.
Canadian law provides that courts can grant a divorce in case of a marriage breakdown. According to the Divorce Act (2021), which applies to all provinces as a federal act, there are three grounds for divorce:
An uncontested divorce means you and your spouse agree on all divorce-related issues, such as parenting time, child support, spousal support, and marital property division. An uncontested divorce does not necessarily mean you have an identical stance on all details. There can still be minor differences in opinions, but they do not prevent you from an amicable dissolution of your matrimony. The benefits of an uncontested divorce are countless. You can file a joint application to the court or let the other spouse file for a divorce under the terms you agreed. The process is far quicker, and the costs are also considerably lower if there are no contested issues there is no court hearing.
Unfortunately, not every marriage is suitable for an uncontested divorce. Depending on the nature of their relationship, some spouses cannot even agree on initiating the divorce, let alone the other issues. Namely, in case of cruel treatment, the spouse committing physical or mental violence often refuses to agree on ending the marriage. Talking about other divorce-related matters is pointless in abusive relationships. Similarly, the spouse engaging in adultery rarely admits marital misconduct. So, separation is the most suitable ground for an uncontested divorce since spouses do not blame each other for their marriage failure.
The crucial difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce is the agreement between the spouses or lack thereof. While marital partners agree on all issues in an uncontested divorce, spouses that cannot find common ground are bound to a contested divorce. Although spouses in a contested divorce have differing views on parenting time, spousal support, and marital property division, they still agree on one crucial issue – to proceed with a divorce.
Unlike an uncontested divorce, spouses disagreeing on family issues often experience grief, resentment, anger, and other negative emotions. As mentioned, partners in abusive relationships or those engaging in adultery can rarely find common language regarding any aspect of the divorce. Despite being aware their marriage is over, partners guilty of adultery often have the urge to disagree on child custody, parenting plan, or other issues. Psychologists explain this phenomenon as a self-defense mechanism. The situation is even worse in abusive relationships. Not only do violent spouses refuse to discuss family issues – they go a step further, rejecting every mention of a divorce.
Consequently, uncontested divorces are time and cost-effective. Without a vindictive process that can drag on for years, the divorce is over in a few weeks after filing for an uncontested divorce. In contrast to that, contested divorce takes several months due to multiple hearings, witness testimonies, expert witnesses, and complex marital property division.
Under New Brunswick law, residency is the first requirement for spouses seeking a divorce. To initiate a divorce, at least one spouse must be a New Brunswick resident for at least one year before filing for a divorce. The court’s venue depends on the place of residence of the spouse filing a petition. In marriages with children, you must file with the court where the children reside. Proving your residence is simple – you can use a driver’s license, ID card, or other government-issued document stating your address. Otherwise, you can call a witness (neighbor or employer) to testify you lived in New Brunswick for at least one year.
Next, you must deal with contentious issues. The essence of an uncontested divorce is the lack of disagreement between divorcing spouses.
The court may ask you to file other forms, such as Financial Statements and Other Income Information (Form 72J). This form helps the court to determine the amount of child support depending on your income. The other documents include a Cover Letter, an Affidavit of Service (Form 18B), an Agreement Not to Appeal (Form 72L), an Affidavit Supporting a Joint Petition, etc. Finally, do not forget to include a Marriage Certificate with the forms you submit to the court.
Unlike contested divorce, the costs of divorcing without contention are considerably lower. Without multiple hearings and countless filings, there are no expensive court filing and legal fees. An uncontested divorce means you have agreed upon everything before the hearing, so nothing is left for the courtroom. The costs ultimately depend on the forms you submit and whether you hire a lawyer. Additionally, legal fees can significantly differ, so you must balance costs and effectiveness.
A well-versed divorce lawyer can help you navigate the divorce process smoothly and effortlessly. Regardless of your circumstances, you will need the assistance of an experienced family lawyer when choosing the appropriate forms or appearing in court. Whether you file for an uncontested or contested divorce, never do it without professional help. Divorce is a period when we cannot always think clearly and rationally. Let the professionals do the legal work for you.
Jack Haller is a top-notch family lawyer in Moncton, New Brunswick. With almost two decades of trial experience, Mr. Haller can help you choose the most effective way of getting out of a marriage.
With an eye for detail, Jack can quickly assess your situation, drafting and filing the most appropriate forms on your behalf. You can rest assured your interests are in good hands with Mr. Haller on your side.
Mr. Haller is available in his Moncton downtown office. Alternatively, you can reach him via telephone or email. He is fluent in English, French, and Spanish – so you can entrust him with your case regardless of your background. Schedule your appointment today.