Ottawa Contested Divorce Lawyer

A failed marriage is challenging terrain for any couple to navigate. It becomes harder when the acrimony extends into the legal process, and the couple must pursue a contested divorce.

An Ottawa contested divorce lawyer could stand by you and argue your position throughout the proceedings. The assistance of a capable legal professional at our firm could ensure you receive a fair settlement and meet your goals for dissolving your marriage.

Initiating a Contested Divorce

When a spouse (applicant) files for divorce, they must file the Divorce Application, Form 8A, with the court and serve the papers on the other spouse (respondent). In Form 8A, the applicant must describe the reason for seeking the divorce and the proposals for property equalization, spousal support, parenting time, and decision-making responsibility.

If the respondent does not answer, the court grants the divorce on the terms outlined in the applicant’s Form 8A. However, if the respondent files a Form 10 Answer within 30 days, the parties have a contested divorce. A seasoned contested divorce lawyer in Ottawa could help either party complete an initial Application or Answer and ensure appropriate service on the other party.

The applicant must allege the breakdown of the marriage due to one of three grounds: adultery, cruelty or abuse, or separation for at least one year. Adultery and separation typically have no impact on child time-sharing and parental responsibility. However, cruelty or abuse could be a significant factor in these decisions. One party might contest a divorce to influence decisions related to the children by alleging cruelty or abuse at the other party’s hands.

Contested Divorce Process

When the respondent files an Answer, making the divorce contested, the lawyers for each party get in touch to establish the issues in dispute and determine a timeline for financial disclosure. According to Family Law Rule 13, each party must completely disclose to the other.


Once each party has had the opportunity to review the other’s disclosure, negotiations typically begin. Some couples use a mediator, collaborative divorce team, or arbitrator to help them resolve outstanding issues. The legal professionals could also work together to arrive at a settlement each party finds acceptable.

Case Conference

If negotiations stall, the parties and their legal representatives could attend a case conference with the judge. The judge will often present their view of the issues and could suggest a resolution. Parties return to negotiations if they cannot settle their differences at the case conference.

Dismissal or Trial

If the court has not received a request for a case conference or a settlement agreement one year after the divorce application filing date, the judge can dismiss the case. If the couple still intends to divorce but negotiations have been unsuccessful, the parties could ask to schedule a trial date at this point.

A Divorce Trial Is Necessary When Negotiations Fail

When all attempts at resolving the outstanding issues between the spouses fail, the case goes to trial. The judge hears each party’s evidence regarding the problems that remain in dispute and renders a verdict. Each party must adhere to the judge’s order.

Trials are stressful for all parties and tend to increase the spouses’ acrimony. They are public, and if a trial reveals embarrassing information, the spouses and their children might suffer terribly. Savvy spouses and their legal representatives make strenuous efforts to avoid going to trial, which is expensive and requires substantial preparation.

Some spouses believe they can represent themselves at trial to save money, but the loser usually must pay the other spouse’s legal fees. The spouse must not only contend with the judge rejecting their arguments, but they could face a substantial legal bill. A skilled lawyer in Ottawa could exert their best efforts to win at trial but would strongly encourage a spouse to settle a contested divorce before a trial becomes necessary.

Work With an Ottawa Lawyer to Smooth Your Contested Divorce

Engaging a legal professional does not mean you anticipate a high-conflict divorce. On the contrary, working with a lawyer can help you avoid unnecessary arguments and focus on the work that must be done to complete a divorce quickly and efficiently. When you work with our Ottawa divorce lawyers at The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm, an experienced professional is available 24/7 to answer your questions and talk you through any concerns.

Navigating a divorce without legal help is inadvisable, even when you and your spouse agree on most issues. Reach out today to discover how a dedicated legal practitioner could help you.

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