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Separation and divorce

Separation or divorce proceedings: how to notify your documents

During your separation or divorce proceedings, you will need to send copies of certain documents to your ex or their lawyer. This is called "notification" and it allows the court to make sure that your ex or their lawyer is aware of the legal proceedings you undertake and the documents you want to use. The law provides for different ways to notify your documents, depending on the situation.

You do not know the location of the person you want to notify?

If you can’t find their contact information, there may be specific rules about notifying your legal proceedings. Consult a lawyer or visit a Community Justice Centre.

Notification by a bailiff is mandatory in certain cases

In a divorce or separation, a copy of certain documents must be sent to your ex by a bailiff. This is called "service”.

You must send a copy of the following documents by bailiff:

  • your application for divorce, also called "application to institute divorce proceedings",
  • any other first application to the court, also called an "originating application" (for example, an application for custody and child support),
  • the summoning of a witness to a hearing, also called a "subpoena”.

You’re free to use a bailiff to notify your documents, even if you are not required by law to do so. However, this method of notification is more expensive.

If you’re not sure whether you need a bailiff in your situation, consult a lawyer or go to a Community Justice Center.

Proof of service

Proof of service allows the court to verify that your ex has received your documents.

Once the bailiff has given the documents to your ex, they will give you a “certificate of service”. This details to whom the document was given, as well as the place, date, and time of service.

You must keep a copy of the report and file the original with the court. You may also agree with the bailiff that they will file it.

Where to find a bailiff?

To find a bailiff in your area or in your ex's area, consult the Chambre des huissiers de justice du Québec's directory of bailiffs (website in French only).

Bailiff fees generally vary between $40 and $200, depending on the nature of the document, the distance to be covered, and the number of trips required.

Other means of notification provided for by law

Some documents don’t need to be served by a bailiff and can be served. For example, they can be sent by technological means, registered mail, or by courier.

Examples of situations where this is the case include answering your ex's application for divorce or to answer most applications made to the court after legal proceedings have begun.

Notification by technological means involves sending a copy of your document to your ex or their lawyer by email or fax.

You must notify your documents to an email address or fax number that is actively used by your ex or their lawyer at the time of notification.

Please note that if your ex is not represented by a lawyer, you must obtain permission from your ex or the court to send the documents to your ex by technological means.

Proof of notification 

Proof of notification allows the court to be sure that your ex or their lawyer received the documents.

In the case of notification by technological means, you must prepare a “transmission slip” (i.e., a fax cover sheet) to prove that you sent the document. This transmission slip must be included in your email or attached to the fax.

Your transmission slip must contain the following information:

  • the nature of the document transmitted (e.g., name of the application, name of the form, etc.)
  • the court file number
  • your name and the name of your ex or their lawyer
  • contact information for you and your ex or their lawyer
  • the place, date and time of transmission.

The transmission slip must also contain information that will allow the recipient to verify that they have received all the documents you intended to send, such as:

  • the document format
  • the number of pages or size of the document.

You must attach a copy of your transmission slip to the document you wish to submit to the court.

En apprendre plus Example of fax slip (OQLF or Quebec’ office of the French language) (French only)

You can also send a copy of your document by registered mail. The document will then be given to your ex or to their lawyer with a signature required upon receipt.

En apprendre plusRegistered Mail (Canada Post)

Proof of notification

Proof of notification allows the court to be sure that your ex or their lawyer has received the documents.

In the case of notification by registered mail, the post office will provide you with proof of delivery with signature. You can usually get this online or at a Canada Post office, using your tracking number.

You must attach your proof of delivery to the document you wish to submit to the court.

You can send a document to your ex or their lawyer by using a courier service.

This service allows you to have your document delivered personally with a signature upon receipt.

Proof of notification

Proof of notification allows the court to be sure that your ex or their lawyer has received the documents.

If notification is by courier, you’ll need to ask the courier to have the recipient sign for the delivery on the “receipt”.

You must attach a copy of the receipt to the document you wish to submit to the court.


The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.

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