You’ve done it. You and your spouse have settled all issues in your separation and have a parenting arrangement and support in place. You’ve reached a deal on property division, and you’ve both signed a Separation Agreement. You’re ready to proceed with an uncontested divorce and move on with your lives.
You’ve come a long way, but your divorce journey isn’t over
The good news is that once you’ve handled the above and you’ve been separated for a year, getting a divorce in Manitoba is relatively easy if you’re good at waiting.
Petition for Divorce
To get to the finish line, one of you needs to file a petition for divorce with Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench. This is the document that tells the court what you’re requesting. When you are only asking the court to give you a divorce (not to decide issues such as custody, support, or property), the whole process is a matter of paperwork. It doesn’t require anyone to actually attend court.
Original Marriage Certificate
Along with the petition for divorce, you must file an original marriage certificate. The marriage certificate must be the government-issued version from the province or state and country in which you were married. Even if you were not married in Manitoba or even Canada, you can still apply to get divorced here, provided you have lived in Manitoba for at least one year before applying.
Petition for Divorce Service
After filing your petition for divorce and marriage certificate, you need to have your spouse served with the petition for divorce. This ensures that both parties know that a request for a divorce is proceeding. Service must be in-person, meaning that someone (other than you) provides your spouse with the documents and then swears an affidavit, confirming that they completed the service. This step is easy when you have legal counsel because the lawyers simply exchange the papers between them. If you are handling your divorce yourself, you will need to hire a process server.
Once the service is complete, there is some waiting to do. If your spouse lives in Manitoba, you need to wait 20 days from the date of service before you can proceed with the divorce. If they live elsewhere in Canada or in the USA, the wait is 40 days, and if they live outside Canada or the USA, it’s a 60-day wait.
Paperwork for Uncontested Divorce in Manitoba
As soon as the required period elapses, you can note your spouse in default. This legal term sounds bad but is actually good and your lawyer will take care of alerting the court to this. It means your spouse is not contesting and you can now file the rest of the paperwork to get the divorce. The remaining paperwork consists of the following:
- An affidavit (a document setting out to the court the evidence they need to grant your divorce)
- A requisition (a request to set a divorce hearing date (again, no one needs to actually attend court)
- A divorce judgment (the document the judge issues to grant the divorce)
If you are the person asking for the divorce, you will swear the affidavit. The affidavit contains all the details the judge will need to grant the divorce judgment. This includes the separation agreement, which gets attached to the affidavit. It tells the judge that you’ve settled all the matters required, and there is nothing for the court to decide. If there are children involved, the income information of both parents is also attached to the affidavit. The judge will compare the income information with the child support arrangements set out in the separation agreement to ensure the child support is adequate.
Divorce Certificate – You’re done!
Once satisfied with the evidence in the affidavit, the judge will pronounce the divorce judgment. You’re not quite done yet. There is more waiting to do. Thirty-one days after the divorce judgment is pronounced, provided there is no appeal, the court will issue a divorce certificate. This is the document that confirms the divorce is final. If you ever want to remarry, you will need to present the divorce certificate prior to doing so.
Although an uncontested divorce involves multiple steps and considerable paperwork, it is less complicated than one that is contested in which the court decides the outcome. After all the waiting, you’re ready to close a chapter and begin a new one.
By Kelly Riediger
Do you have questions about uncontested divorce in Manitoba? Contact me at (204) 992-3249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.