Uncontested Divorce Nova Scotia: Info, Benefits & Filing
When a married couple separates it is important to deal with all of the outstanding issues arising from that separation, such as custody, support and a division of assets and debts. We are all familiar with the Hollywood movies depicting divorces as difficult and contentious which end up in court. These types of divorces are referred to as contested divorces but not all divorces have to be contentious. In this blog, we will deal with uncontested divorce in Nova Scotia.
Divorce is the legal process to end, formally, a marriage. If you and your former spouse are able to agree on matters as you move towards formally ending the marriage, then an uncontested divorce can occur without the necessity of having to set the matter down in court and having a Judge make decisions regarding who gets custody of the children, parenting time for the children, who gets what assets and who assumes what debts.
When it comes to divorce, most people think about contested divorce. However, according to the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics, 49% of Canadian divorce cases in 2019-2020 were uncontested.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Nova Scotia?
In Nova Scotia, uncontested divorces happen when a separating couple is able to reach an agreement on all of the issues arising from the breakdown of the marriage. When the parties cooperate and if they can reach an agreement, they can avoid the necessity of filing a Petition for Divorce to start the court process. Rather, they can elect to file the agreed upon terms with the courts to formally finalize the divorce.
In order to file for an uncontested divorce in Nova Scotia, the separating couple must not have any financial disputes (such as child support, spousal support or disagreement on who gets which assets). Furthermore, both parties have to agree to have the divorce proceed on an uncontested basis after reaching an agreement on all of the aforementioned issues.
You can file for this type of divorce once you and your spouse have signed a separation agreement and the two of you have been living separate and apart for at least one year. Otherwise, if you would to file earlier than one year, you would both need to agree to file on the grounds of adultery or cruelty (mental/physical).
As mentioned before, the general characteristic for this form of divorce is agreement. Agreement regarding custody, parenting time, child support, property division, and spousal support.
What to Expect from an Uncontested Divorce
Typically, one of the spouses begins by filing paperwork for an uncontested divorce, which often includes filing a separation agreement/minutes of settlement whereby all of the issues arising from the breakdown of the marriage are dealt with in the separation agreement. The separation agreement then forms part of the court order.
On average, it takes about three to four months for your Nova Scotia family lawyer to prepare the documents, have them signed by both parties, file the appropriate divorce forms with the court, and receive the divorce orders back granted by the court. This assumes that you had a written separation agreement in existence beforehand and both spouses agree to process that separation agreement with no changes.
While spouses can reach agreement on all terms to be contained in a separation agreement, it often takes longer than three or four months to negotiate a successful conclusion to a separation agreement. Afterward, your lawyer can start the joint application for divorce documents.
In order to have a successfully concluded uncontested divorce in Nova Scotia, it is essential to engage the services of a family lawyer. Having a lawyer work with you will ensure that all issues, some of which you will not necessarily consider without the expertise of a Nova Scotia family law lawyer, are anticipated and covered. It is your lawyer’s job to identify and explore all issues related to your divorce so as not to inadvertently create a problem down the road.
Without a Halifax family lawyer you can unwittingly create problems by not recognizing the consequences of issues that were either left out by omission or deliberately omitted with the hope they will be overlooked or not noticed. Oftentimes these omissions will catch up and you don’t want to open the door to litigation or court action down the road.
Pros and Cons of Uncontested Divorce in Nova Scotia
When it comes to filing for an uncontested divorce and assuming that you and your spouse can agree to do so, there are a basket of pros and cons. You should be aware of these so you can turn your mind to them and consider whether you can successfully reach agreement on issues in order to file for this type of divorce and whether doing so will require more compromise on your part than your estranged spouse’s part.
The most obvious benefit for this form of divorce is the cost savings. While having a Halifax family lawyer is highly recommended regardless of the type of divorce, an uncontested divorce will always be less expensive compared to paying your lawyer’s fees to prepare for court and then attend court in a protracted and highly acrimonious litigation.
Another benefit is the speed with which a joint petition for divorce would be granted opposed to a contested divorce. As previously mentioned, assuming that you have a separation agreement settling all issues between the two of you, an uncontested divorce can typically be drafted, processed and granted within approximately three to four months. This is compared to a contested divorce which can take much longer.
A major and often overlooked benefit is the mental and emotional distress that can be avoided. Going through a contentious divorce takes a terrible toll on your emotional and mental wellbeing. Furthermore, the more upset that occurs over the course of a contentious divorce, the more likely your child or children are likely to pick up on that distress.
Pursuing this divorce can avoid the wear and tear on your mental health and potentially that of your children. While all separation and divorce involve some level of conflict, the amount of conflict between separating spouses is significantly decreased in uncontested cases.
One of the most significant disadvantages of an uncontested divorce is to trade simplicity and low cost in favour of a comprehensive decision on custody and parenting matters or complicated asset and debt distributions or spousal support provisions.
One obvious disadvantage of an uncontested divorce being overly simplified is that comprehensive provisions made for children can be given short shrift which can cause future conflict between the divorced parties later on. It is often a mistake to sacrifice well considered and thought-out provisions relating to the dissolution of your marriage in favour of a modest fee by having an uncontested divorce in Nova Scotia.
How to File a Joint Application for Divorce?
There are two ways to start an uncontested divorce in NS. Those are:
- Joint Application for Divorce (uncontested).
- Application for Divorce based on a Written Agreement (uncontested).
You and your spouse need to file the necessary documents for an uncontested divorce. This can best be served by retaining a family law lawyer or divorce lawyer to prepare the necessary forms.
The forms will be filed with the court and a judge will review the documents without requiring either you your spouse to appear in court. There are special forms that need to be filed with the court. The costs below (as of August 2021) to file for an uncontested divorce in Nova Scotia are as follows:
- To file a Joint Application for Divorce – $218.05
- To file an Application for Divorce based on a Written Agreement – $218.05.
For more information on what forms to use and the cost of court filing costs, you can consult Nova Scotia’s Family Law website, which is a valuable resource to assist parties in a walkthrough of what they can expect to encounter in the process of divorce and the steps required to deal with divorce.
Difference Between Uncontested Divorce and Other Types of Divorce
An uncontested divorce can take the form of either a joint application for divorce or an application for divorce based on written agreement. A contested divorce in Nova Scotia, on the other hand, is a divorce where the spouses disagree on one or more issues regarding how the divorce is to be settled. Issues of contention may include:
- Custody/and or parenting arrangements of children
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Division of matrimonial assets and debts
- Division of business assets
Any time that one or more of these issues remain outstanding and unresolved between the parties, requires judicial intervention and that the matter be set down before the court for a judge to hear the matter and make a decision. This is what is referred to as a contested divorce.
Speak to our Halifax Family Law Lawyers
Going through a divorce is never easy, but with the help of our experienced Halifax divorce lawyers, you can navigate the process with confidence. If you’re considering a divorce or need legal representation for your case, don’t hesitate to contact our firm today. Call 1 (902) 422-8811 now to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a brighter future.