Phew! You did the hard work of getting everything related to your separation settled and you have a separation agreement. Great job on that by the way! Whether it was a simple agreement, or it took some time to get everything just right to address the unique needs of your family, it is all tough and emotional work.
After all the dust has settled, you might be asking yourself “What’s next? Is that it? I’m sure I’m forgetting something!” There is actually one more step in order to completely finalize legal matters between you and your spouse – obtaining a divorce from the court.
Getting a divorce judgement is a formal legal process which includes a series of steps and filing a number of documents with the court before a judge considers divorce pronouncement. Once a separation agreement is signed, the process for obtaining an uncontested divorce is fairly straight forward (check out our other blog post What to Expect in an Uncontested Divorce in Manitoba for more information about the process).
But did you know that there is a way to file for a divorce together with your spouse?
While the steps and documents that need to be filed are similar when one spouse starts the process, there are a few key differences, and potential benefits in filing jointly that you and your spouse may want to consider.
Joint Petition for Divorce
A joint petition for divorce is a separate court form that allows spouses to file for a divorce together, at the same time. Both spouses are named as Petitioner and Co-Petitioner. This shows the court you and your spouse are on the same page and are both asking the court to grant a divorce.
Where filing jointly differs from one spouse filing alone is there often needs to be an arrangement of service on the other spouse as they are a “Respondent”. To cut through the legal lingo, a Petition for Divorce is often the very first document getting filed with the court, and we call it an “initiating pleading”. When an initiating pleading is filed with the court, it needs to be formally and personally “served” on the other party named in those pleadings, aka your spouse, typically through a process server.
So, when filing a joint petition for divorce, since both spouses are the petitioners starting the court proceeding, there is no need to “serve” the other spouse!
Joint Affidavit of Petitioner’s Evidence
The next document that is filed is the Joint Affidavit of Petitioner’s Evidence.
The Joint Affidavit of Petitioner’s Evidence is a sworn or affirmed document that both spouses sign, and it contains all the relevant information that a judge needs to see to pronounce the divorce.
The affidavit often contains your separation agreement, income information, and other relevant information so that the judge is aware that all matters relating to parenting, support and division of property has been addressed. The judge needs this information to proceed with pronouncing a divorce.
Joint Divorce Pronouncement
In pronouncing a divorce, it is a judge’s responsibility to ensure that everything that is required has been done according to the relevant laws. If there is something that a judge is not clear about, or needs further information on, or something needs correcting, a Notice of Rejection and the reasons for the rejection may be returned.
But if after review of the filed documents a judge is satisfied with everything that has been filed, they pronounce the divorce.
As now ex-spouses, you will still need to wait 31 days after the divorce pronouncement date for the divorce to officially take effect. After the 31 one days, you can order a divorce certificate. Then you’re done!
By Alyssa Bird
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