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Ending a marriage is never something we plan for. When it does happen, the change and implications to every aspect of our lives is overwhelming, confusing and stressful. We are here to understand your specific situation and needs, in order to handle the complexity involved with the entire separation or divorce process. Our goal is to ensure the transition during these difficult times is as easy as possible. The following information will provide you with an overview of the divorce or separation process, but we are only one phone call away to answer your questions.

Grounds for Divorce

The first step in any divorce is understanding where your relationship sits within the three grounds for divorce:

  1. Having lived separate and apart for a year;
  2. Having committed adultery;
  3. Having treated the other spouse – or been treated by the other spouse – with physical or mental cruelty.

Before filing a divorce application, spouses can choose to go through a mediation process to help settle the dispute. Mediation is not mandatory, however, it is always best to consider this approach while ensuring that you know your rights and are comfortable with the process. However, in cases where there are issues regarding to child custody, spousal or child support, the family patrimony, other patrimonial rights arising from the marriage or civil union or the partition of property between de facto spouses cannot proceed to trial unless the parties have jointly or separately participated in a parenting information session.

The the objective of mediation is to inform the parents whether married or unmarried, that an amicable resolution through mediation is a way to a mutual agreement in respect to their separation. The registration is done at the “Service de médiation familiale de la Cour supérieure”, after which you will receive an attestation of your participation. For ease of reference, kindly find the link below:

Application for Divorce

When the time comes to submit an application for divorce, there are two approaches:

  1. Where spouses agree, they can divorce amicably by having our firm handle the paperwork involved. Click here and we can assist you with our simple and straightforward amicable divorce packages;
  2. Where spouses do not agree, they must apply individually and consult a lawyer to go through with the application.

The divorce application is then filed in the judicial district where you, the spouses, have your joint residence, or if you do not live together, where one of the spouses resides.


Once the divorce application is filed by one spouse, the other spouse will receive a summons that requires a response within 15 days of receipt, provided they are a Quebec resident (the delay is longer in some cases). This is a step that applies when the matter becomes contested. In the event that you are served with a Divorce Application, it is critical to contact us immediately given the timelines prescribed by the law. There always remains the possibility of settling on an amicable basis, but certain steps provided must be respected.

Provisional Measures or Hearings for Unmarried Parties

Within family law in Quebec, the judicial process is different depending on whether the parties are married or not married. When you are not married there are two steps:

  1. The first step is an urgent hearing to deal with things like custody and child support. This is an initial step where the Court will determine the orders that will remain in place on a temporary basis regarding the above aspects. At this stage, there are usually no witnesses but rather the Court relies on written testimony and evidence. The role played by your lawyer is key at this crucial step;
  2. The next step is a hearing where the same aspects are looked at, however, more in depth and along with evidence and witness testimony. The decision rendered by the judge at trial becomes a final decision and will govern the parents for longer periods of time. This is another important step where having an experienced representative on your side is key.

When you are married there are usually three steps:

  1. There can be the same Safeguard Orders that deal with urgent matters such as parenting time, use of the family residence, child, and spousal support. Again, there is no testimony, and the Court relies on written testimony and evidence prior to rendering a decision;
  2. First hearing for married spouses is the hearing on Provisional Measures which deals with the same issues as the Safeguard Orders however there is testimony and in-depth evidence heard. The decision rendered by the court on a provisional basis is temporary but can last for several months – usually until the final hearing on the Divorce is presented;
  3. Final Divorce hearing – this is when all aspects are dealt with on a final basis including parenting time, decision making responsibility, child support, spousal support, and the partition of assets. This is when the Judgment of Divorce is finally rendered, and the marriage dissolved.

Fixing a Trial Date

The parties must file a “request for setting down for trial and judgment” within one year from when the case protocol was accepted in the case of married spouses. For fixing a hearing on Provisional Measures or for unmarried spouses, a trial is fixed once the file is declared complete in virtue of the form required by law.

General Overview of a Proceeding in Family Court (Superior Court – Family Division)

Married Spouses Divorce Timeline:

Common Law Separation Timeline: