Traditional Court Divorce – Serving Documents To A Former Partner

This post is third in an ongoing series in which we look at some of the basics of traditional court divorce. Last week, we talked about the various courts in Ontario that deal with family law issues. Once one of the partners decides on a court and starts a case, the next step is to “serve” the claim.

What Is Service?

Service is a formal term in which the applicant gives notice to the former partner that a court case has been initiated against him or her.

Service provides the other side with court forms and other relevant documentation such as bank statement and tax forms. Service informs the former partner of what the applicant is asking of the judge and provides the respondent a chance to tell his or her side.

Nothing moves forward until the former partner has been served. If this doesn’t happen within six months of having the application issued, the court may close the file.

Service sounds simple, but the process is subject to specific court rules.

Special And Regular Service

Service is required at various times throughout the lifetime of a court case. When first making a divorce application, the rules of special service apply. The applicant cannot simply hand the former partner a package. Instead, a friend, family member or professional process server must serve the documents. In some cases, such as in abuse cases where one side fears for his or her personal safety, court staff may serve the documents to the other party.

Other exchange of documents may fall under the rules of regular service. This can take various forms – usually delivered to the opposing side’s lawyer by fax, mail, courier, or email.

It’s important that the individual serving the documents fill out an Affidavit of Service confirming the details of the service process.

Court divorce is not easy. Many rules and detailed procedures apply. Knowing and following them correctly saves time, money and headache.


Call us.

Our lawyers can help you through the process.

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