What To Do When Your Spouse Serves You Divorce Papers

The months leading up to a divorce are usually stressful and tiring. You and your spouse have been having more disagreements than usual, and you are walking on eggshells when you are near them. Being served divorce papers, whether or not you saw it coming, can be shocking and upsetting. This blog post will cover the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition into your divorce. 

Signing divorce papers

Filing your Answer

The first thing you may want to do is to confront your spouse about the divorce application; however, we suggest taking a few days for yourself or spending time with family and friends for support. Once you are ready, read the divorce papers and do some research online to thoroughly and fully understand the forms, what your spouse is asking for, and how the conditions they've set out would affect you. The papers should include your spouse’s reasons for divorce and their proposed conditions of divorce, which can include division of property, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

You will have received a document otherwise known as Answer (Form 10) with the divorce papers, in which you can respond to the claims stated in the application. You can directly send this to your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer if they choose to retain one.

What is the due date for the response? 

You have 30 days to respond from the day your spouse serves you the divorce papers. Keep in mind that there are many things to prepare in the limited time frame. We encourage you to mark the due date in your calendar, or create an alarm on your phone to keep yourself well organized and diligent. 

What happens if I don’t respond on time?

While it takes two to get married, it only takes one to get divorced. If you do not respond to the papers on time, the court will assume that you agree to the terms outlined in the papers, and they will enter a default judgement. You may be able to set the judgement aside, but you will be asked to provide an explanation for missing the deadline. Similarly, if you do not consent to the divorce, your spouse can still divorce you after proving one of the three acceptable grounds for divorce in Canada: 

  1. Adultery – one or both the partners had sexual relations with another during the marriage. The act was discovered and not forgiven, and the partners have been separated for 90 days. 
  2. Abuse – one spouse has been mentally or physically abusive to the other
  3. Separation – partners have been living separate and apart for a year. 

Choose your legal representation

If you and your spouse have major disagreements and you are therefore contesting their application for divorce, a lawyer would be highly recommended. However, eighty percent of divorces in Canada are uncontested, and legal representation is only one of the many options.  Online tools such as Thistoo can help you understand the divorce process, as well as the fairness of the requests your spouse has made in their divorce application. It is vital to be fully aware of the implications of their requests, as these decisions will affect your rights in the future. 

If you find help from a local lawyer, most of the work will be done for you, given that you provide the necessary legal forms. Of course, you can call upon the lawyer to complete the whole process for you, or even part of the process to suit your financial circumstance.

For example, you can have a lawyer perform the initial step of responding to the request for the dissolution of your marriage, and you complete the rest of the tasks. Another option would be to hire a divorce lawyer to write up a separation agreement and provide you with advice while you take care of the court proceedings. Lastly, you can have the lawyer only represent you in court, while you fill in all the paperwork and preparation tasks beforehand. 

An online divorce may be more favourable for you if you are looking for a more affordable option. Thistoo provides all the documents necessary to file your own divorce for only $35/month.  The website is formatted in a step-by-step setup, assuring that people without prior experience to family law can easily complete the forms. Thistoo offers a Separation Agreement Generator, Divorce Task Checklist, Spousal and Child Support Calculator, and many more tools for a fraction of the price of retaining a lawyer. 

If you would like a low-cost divorce, but would also like the assistance of an attorney, you can request help from an attorney to advise you while you file for your divorce online. Another cost-effective option would be to receive independent legal advice from a lawyer to strengthen your Separation Agreement for a flat, or unbundled rate.

Gather Evidence

Whether or not you choose to have your local lawyer represent you, or you would like to complete an online divorce, you will be asked to provide documents that serve as evidence to respond to your spouse’s claims and support your own. 

Documents may include financial statements, notices of assessments, lease documentation, and anything else that can help resolve issues pertaining to child custody and support.  Try Thistoo’s free Document Smartlist for a detailed list of documents you need to prepare for your divorce. 

Revisit your assets

Revisit Your Assets

When an individual is going through a divorce, finances are probably one of the biggest concerns. Getting a divorce through the court is expensive, and although online divorce will lessen the cost, often divorcees will notice their pool of finances have shrunk. The reasons can range from assets, money, and possessions being split between spouses, and one or both individuals moving into separate housing. 

We recommend that you cancel joint bank accounts, create secure personal accounts and change the PIN for bank accounts that have been previously shared with your spouse. You can do both of these tasks by bringing two pieces of ID (other than your bank card) to your local branch, and they will assist you. You can also use Thistoo’s free Task Smartlist for a list of additional tasks you should consider completing for your divorce.


Above all, we encourage you to take good care of yourself and your body, as the divorce process can be daunting. Keeping a clear mind will help you make good decisions for your specific circumstances. Try to avoid bad habits such as drugs or addictive outlets and deal with your stress in a healthy way. Do exercise, practice yoga, try therapy, or even go out with your friends and family if you find yourself becoming stressed. The divorce process won’t be easy, and Thistoo knows that. We exist to make this difficult period a little bit easier for you. Try us out today.