When your spouse is served with a stamped copy of your Petition for Divorce, they will have time to file an Answer (Form FD 59.10). An Answer is a court form that allows your spouse, the Respondent, to respond to anything written in your Petition for Divorce.
Your spouse may choose to file an Answer with the court if they:
disagree with the reason given for the marriage breakdown
disagree with something that you are asking for in your Petition for Divorce
are not sure what is being asked for in your Petition for Divorce
want to correct an error or say they believe something is wrong in the Petition for Divorce
want to add a new issue, or several issues, that were not already listed in your Petition for Divorce.
Your spouse is not required to file an Answer if they agree with what is in the Petition for Divorce and they do not want to add any new issues with the court.
If your spouse decides to file an Answer, they must file it with the court within a required time limit.
The respondent must file an Answer within:
15 days if they were served in Nova Scotia
30 days if they were served in Canada but outside of Nova Scotia
45 days if they were served outside of Canada.
If your spouse files an Answer, they will need to arrange to have the documents hand delivered to you, just like you had to arrange for them to be personal served with your Petition for Divorce. They will also need to pay a filing fee to the court.
Count the days
There are special rules about how to calculate the number of days in the time limit. The time limits are based on “clear” days, and not calendar days. A clear day does not include a Saturday, a Sunday, or a holiday. The days to count are usually business days. Generally when counting days, you don’t count the day on which your spouse was served with the Petition for Divorce, or any days on which the court is closed (for example, weekends and statutory holidays). You (the petitioner) must keep track of the number of days — the court will not do this for you.
Example: if your spouse was served in Nova Scotia on September 1st, 2021, then they would have until September 24th, 2021 to file an Answer. The first clear day (Day 1) would be September 2nd. You would not count weekends or any holidays (Labour Day). The last clear day (Day 15) would be September 23rd. The respondent can file on the following day, September 24th, so that there is 15 business days between the day they were served (September 1st) and the day they filed their paperwork (September 24th).
The time limits come from the Civil Procedure Rule 94.02, which are the court rules.
If your spouse does not file an Answer with the court within the time limits, then you may be able to ask the court to turn your contested divorce into an uncontested divorce and to proceed with your divorce.
However, even if your spouse does not file an Answer within the time limit, they can still apply to court to ask for more time to file an Answer, if they need it. They can use this form to ask for extra time, but other documents may be required. The judge will not automatically grant their request for extra time and they will need to explain why they were not able to file the Answer within the time limit.
If your spouse does not want to contest the divorce, but they want to be notified of the court process, they can file a Demand for Notice (Form FD 59.11). This will allow your spouse to agree to the divorce but still mean you must send them copies of any documents you file with the court.