Canadian Legal Documents






Domestic-relations law, or Family Law, as a whole, deals with matters concerning divorce, separation, custody, support, adoption, guardianship, as well as other categories. The rules are constantly changing, so if you are preparing your own documents, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer.

Correct and truthful information is important when completing legal documents. If the information you supply is knowingly dishonest, it becomes a case of Perjury, which is defined as a false statement by a person, with an intention to mislead. The consequences for perjury are serious, and could result in time spent in jail. Perjury is viewed as an obstruction of justice.

There are several facets to this section of the law. Some of the documents related to Family Law in Canada, together with a brief definition, are listed below (the link takes you to a document and form site).

  • Legal Documents - Family LawSeparation documents: A legal separation document provides that the couple is living apart and the separation is court-approved, and includes information about specific orders for support, custody of children. This action is usually the first step towards divorce, and is also used when divorce is not an option because of religious beliefs.
  • Divorce documents: The definition of divorce under Canadian Law is “the ending of a marriage by court order”. The documents can be complicated if they involve many facets, i.e. custody, alimony, property division, etc. Care must be taken if you choose to complete them yourself. In any case, a lawyer will eventually have to be consulted due to the amount of court involvement in the divorce proceedings.
    - A ‘Petition for Divorce’ is the first document in the divorce process.
    - A “Decree” is a judgement or court order in relation to the dissolution of marriage.
    - A “Divorce Judgement” is issued, usually 31 days after the day on which the judgement granting the divorce is rendered, as long as there are no complications.
    - A “Divorce Certificate” must be issued before either party can remarry.
    All these forms have to go through court proceedings. The documents “Decree Nisi” and “Decree Absolute” are rarely used today and have been replaced with “Divorce Judgement” and “Divorce Certificate”.
  • Guardianship documents: Guardianship usually entails either protecting an estate for a minor child until they reach the age of maturity, or having to manage the estate of an adult who is incompetent and unable to manage their own financial affairs. Because laws differ from Province to Province, it is important to obtain the proper documents. A common guardianship is the ‘guardian ad litem’, which is an attorney or lawyer appointed by the court to perform the specific duties of a guardian.
  • Adoption documents: Adoption matters are typically filed in Family Court. Under normal circumstances, the procedure is a closed hearing as the files are sealed. When adoption originates from an agency, even the parents are not allowed access to the files. A ‘Petition for Adoption’ is the initial document to be completed and filed either by a stepparent or an individual wanting to adopt. If you are a stepparent adopting your new spouse’s child(ren), you will have to complete the required document. The non-custodial parent in a stepparent adoption also has to file a Petition agreeing to the adoption.
  • Custody documents: Both parties of a divorce are considered equal when requesting custody of minor children. The custody arrangement has to go through family court in order for it to prevail. Regardless of who gets awarded custody, the non-custodial parent, under normal circumstances, retains visiting rights. Recently, joint custody has become more prominent. Custody documents usually stipulate that the parents keep each other informed on matters regarding the welfare, social development, health and education of the child(ren).
  • Maintenance and Child Support documents: Both parents, custodial and non-custodial, can be responsible for the support of minor children of the dissolved marriage. Resources of both parents are examined before the court makes a decision with regard to child support. The court also takes into consideration the special needs of the child(ren), if there are any, and their welfare and health needs, as well as the income and debts of each parent.
  • Division of Property documents: These documents are very important as they regard issues involving division of property, taxes, child custody, child access, and maintenance. This section of Family Law is fairly complex, and falls within the particular laws of each Province.

Remember: Each Canadian Province has its own laws regarding Family Law, so before you sign or complete any of the above documents, you should consult with a lawyer to make sure your information is correct and non-discriminatory.

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