How to start a divorce

There are 3 ways to start a divorce in Nova Scotia:

  1. Joint Application for Divorce (uncontested)

  2. Application for Divorce based on a Written Agreement (uncontested)

  3. Petition for Divorce (contested)


How you will be able to start the divorce will depend on whether you and your spouse agree or disagree about the main issues that need to be resolved in a divorce. These issues include:

  • the reason for the breakdown of the marriage

  • the parenting arrangements (decision-making responsibility and parenting time) for any dependent children

  • child support and/or spousal support

  • how the property and assets will be divided, and pension division, if any.


Contested divorce: When you and your spouse disagree about one or more divorce related issue

Your divorce is called contested if you and your spouse disagree about one or more issues related to the divorce and you cannot work things out.  A contested divorce requires a trial before a judge, who will decide whatever issues you and your spouse cannot agree on, unless you and your spouse are able to work things out before getting to a trial.

Use a Petition for Divorce to start a contested divorce.  You should also use a Petition for Divorce if you think your divorce might be contested. 

Even after filing a Petition for Divorce, you and your spouse can continue to negotiate and try to resolve any disagreements. You and your spouse may be able to work things out through the help of lawyers or a court process, such as a settlement conference.


Uncontested divorce: When you and your spouse agree about all divorce related issues

Your divorce is called uncontested if you and your spouse agree on all issues related to the divorce.

You can start an uncontested divorce by:

  1. Joint Application for Divorce, or

  2. Application for Divorce by Written Agreement

For an uncontested divorce you and your spouse file the necessary forms with the court and a judge will review the documents without requiring you or your spouse to appear in court. If there is missing information or if something is not clear, the court will ask for more or clearer information.

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