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Separation and divorce

Main steps in a divorce

Are you planning to get a divorce and don’t know what to expect? Here are the main steps in getting a divorce in a “contested” proceeding, i.e., when the spouses don’t agree on all the elements needed to make a joint application. The steps are the same whether you’re represented by a lawyer or not.

Do you have urgent applications or is your ex not responding to your divorce application?

Your experience may be different based on your personal situation.

You may have to take additional steps if you have urgent applications to settle (e.g., child custody or support). Or some steps might not apply to you, for example, if your ex never shows up in court.

Other situations could change the way your divorce proceeds.

1) One of the spouses opens a case record at the courthouse

In this step, known as “the commencement of proceedings” with an “originating application,” one of the spouses (or their lawyer) must prepare the written application, called an “Application for divorce,” and gather certain documents.

The spouse then files the application for divorce and the supporting documents with the courthouse to open a case record at the court.

The application for divorce and the supporting documents must also be sent to the other spouse, by bailif. This is called service.

The spouse commencing the divorce proceedings is called “the applicant” or “the plaintiff.”


A “fast lane” to divorce

At any time during the judicial process, you and your ex can speak with a mediator to help you reach an agreement and settle your divorce out of court.

The process of obtaining a divorce judgment is usually faster when the spouses agree to settle out of court because they don’t have to follow many of the steps necessary in a “contested” divorce.


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.

New on JuridiQC!

Joint Divorce Help Tool

Free and easy to use, JuridiQC’s help tool assists married couples who don’t have children together as they prepare their joint divorce application. From filling out documents to filing them at the courthouse, we provide step-by-step guidance.