Important information to consider before starting a divorce

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Divorce can be complicated. When you apply for divorce in Nova Scotia, you will also deal with other issues related to your separation and divorce, like parenting arrangements and child support if you have children,  spousal support, and property, pensions, and debts. Even if you don’t want to divide any property, pensions, or debts as part of your divorce, or have nothing to divide, the court will usually want you to file paperwork saying this, to make sure that you take care of everything related to your married life. This is usually the case with spousal support too. If neither spouse is asking for spousal support, you may need to state this in your paperwork.

Issues like property, pensions and debts probably can’t be changed after your divorce is final. This is why it is so important to speak with a lawyer before you file for a divorce - to make sure you know your rights and responsibilities, even if your divorce seems simple and you and your spouse agree on everything. For example, if you agree in your divorce to not divide your property, or you don’t ask for a share of your spouse’s pension, you probably won’t be able to change this once the divorce is final.

You must complete court documents for any divorce in Nova Scotia, even when both spouses agree on everything. You must give a lot of information and detail in your divorce paperwork. You may have to repeat the same information in various forms, but it is important that you fill in all of the information.

You are not divorced until a judge grants your divorce and the final divorce orders are issued by the court.  Just starting a divorce proceeding with the court DOES NOT mean that you are divorced. Some divorces go to a trial in front of a judge in a courtroom. This kind of divorce is called ‘contested.’ Other divorces do not go to a trial, and are reviewed by a judge on their own in their office. This kind of divorce is called ‘uncontested.’ The court cannot guarantee how long either type of divorce will take.

You can’t remarry until your divorce is final and you have a divorce certificate in your hands. Do not plan a wedding to get remarried until you have received your divorce certificate from the court. The court WILL NOT speed up your divorce because you wish to remarry.

Divorces can take a long time, depending on the type of divorce and the issues involved.  Even divorces that are uncontested and that seem easy can take months to process. Divorces may take more time to process if:

  • documents are filed incorrectly
  • required documents and information has not been filed
  • the court has a higher-than-normal volume of files
  • they are contested and require court time (this only applies to divorces started by a petition)
  • the court doesn’t receive a ‘clearance certificate’ for a file.