Can you look up divorce records in Canada? All provinces in Canada, save for Quebec, classify divorce files as public records alongside other civil litigation cases like child support. There are several reasons why you would want to check your divorce records or those of another person online. Perhaps you are a female and would like to resume your maiden name on your government documents and other records. Maybe you are working on a genealogy project. If you are in a serious relationship, you might want to know your partner’s relationship history or look up their ancestry. Canada grants public access to marital status records. However, there might be some restrictions on the information you can obtain. So, how do I find divorce records in Canada?
How to Check Divorce Status Online
Most people often wonder, are divorce documents public in Canada? How do you check and see if you are divorced? In Canada, a divorce may fall under the following statutes:
- Family Law Act
- Child Support Guidelines
- Children’s Law Reform Act
- The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
Usually, each local jurisdiction has its own system for accessing and maintaining divorce records. To access divorce files in Canada, you must submit a request from the court where you obtained your divorce or the Archives. Sometimes, you may need the central registry of divorce proceedings to obtain critical information. The level of access to divorce records will depend on several factors, including when the petitioner filed for the divorce.
Records for Divorces Filed Between 1826 and 1946
It is not easy to obtain records for divorces filed before 1968. Given that the Divorce Act was passed in Parliament in 1968, no cohesive divorce law existed before then. Between 1840 and 1968, divorces were granted through the acts of the Parliaments of Canada. The divorce process was long and complex, and extremely expensive.
Anyone who wished to file for divorce during this period would publish a notice in the Canada Gazette. They also had to post notices for six months on two local papers. The good news is that you can still access the Canada Gazette records to find notices of divorce applications. These notices are particularly important for genealogical and historical research. They contain vast information, including the details of the marriages and the events that led to the divorce, including adultery and bigamy. The details that you can obtain from these notices include the following:
- The date and place of marriage
- The names of the petitioner and spouse
- The grounds for divorce
- The place of residence
The drawback is that the records do not provide divorce files. You must rely on other databases to obtain the actual divorce records and status. Some of these databases include:
- Statutes of Canada — here, you can find transcripts for Acts of Divorce from 1867 to 1963
- Canadiana — contains online versions of statutes for certain years
- Journals of the Senate of Canada — here you will find the transcripts for Acts of Divorce from 1964 to 1968
- CanGenealogy site — here, you will find the names of petitioners and their spouses for all the divorce applications filed between 1826 and 1946. However, that’s all the information you will get on this site. In addition, some of the applications you will find here did not result in divorce because the divorce process was intricate and expensive.
Records for Divorces Filed From 1931 to 1986
Some provinces have a central record of divorces from 1931 to 1980, where you will find free divorce records. Unfortunately, you can’t instantly access digital copies of divorce records. You must request a copy of the specific document you need. You can request online, by mail, or in person by visiting the Reading Room, usually by appointment. You could also find some divorce files from 1981 to 1986 in the Archives of certain provinces or the local courthouse.
Divorces Filed From 1987 Onwards
You can access records for a divorce filed in Canada family court from 1987 onwards through the local courthouses where the petitioner filed the divorce. To get a copy of the divorce records, you must know the name of the parties involved and the year the divorce was filed. You can go to the local courthouse or file a request by mail.
Obtaining Divorce Records in Canada
How do you check and see if you are divorced? As you probably know, it is not easy to obtain divorce details in Canada – even your own divorce details. Even if a person’s divorce status and records can be accessed by the public, they are still personal information. Therefore, privacy laws apply, including the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. First, you must understand what you should do to obtain divorce records in Canada. The specific steps you should take will depend on where you are obtaining the records from:
Library and Archives Canada
In the Acts of Divorce database found at the Library and Archives Canada, you will find 12,732 references for divorces filed between 1841 to 1968. They are published in:
- Statutes of Canada
- Statutes of the Province of Canada
- Journals of the Senate of Canada
- Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada
You can find the record by filling out one or several fields on the search page. The fields include:
- Given Name or Names of the Petitioners
- The surname of the petitioner
- Surname of Spouse
- Given Name or Names of Spouse
When you find the entry, you will access the following information:
- Year of the publication
- Reference of the publication that contains the item
- Citation of the chapter or other reference number
Archives of Your Province
Here, you can access a divorce file if you provide the following information:
- The relevant courthouse
- Application year
- File number
Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings
At the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings, commonly abbreviated as CRDP, you can find records for divorce filings from July 1968. Here, you will find records for all divorces filed in Canadian courts. The registry can provide you with the court, file number, and the year of your divorce. However, the CRDP doesn’t confirm the divorce status or provide copies of the divorce records. To get this information, you must request it from the relevant courthouse.
You can obtain your divorce information by calling the CRDP or completing a search request form at the CRDP website. After completing the search request form, you should sign and print it, then mail the hard copy to the CRDP. You will provide the following information:
- Full names at birth
- Birth date
- The date of marriage
- Name and birth date of the former spouse
- Approximate date of divorce
It is important to note that for all divorces that were initiated in Wentworth County, Hamilton, after 1979, you must contact the local courthouse to obtain the file number.
The CRDP can give you information about another person’s divorce provided you have the person’s consent or if the divorce information is required for legal services. In this case, you must file a completed and duly signed search request and consent form.
Obtaining Divorce Records from the Local Courthouse
You can access records for divorces filed from July 1968 onwards in the local courthouses. Provided you know the location, you can check whether the documents are in the local courthouse or at the Archives of your province. You should have the following details:
- The year the divorce was granted
- The court file number
- The divorce registry number
If you don’t know the file number or the divorce registry number, you can acquire it from the CRDP. However, if you have all the required information, you can use any of the following ways to request a divorce certificate:
- Visit the courthouse and request in person – you can also have a representative request on your behalf
- Sign-up and use the ONe-key account via the Justice Services Online Portal
- Fill out and submit Form 36B via mail to the courthouse
You will pay a $24 fee for the divorce certificate. You can use a debit card or credit card to pay the feed. If you apply via mail, you can pay by money order or cheque. The fee is payable to the minister of finance. For additional information, contact your local courthouse.
Perhaps you don’t have the ability to pay the divorce certificate fee. In this case, you can request a waiver from the court. The court will determine whether your financial status qualifies you for a waiver. If you qualify, the court will give you a Fee Waiver Certificate. You will show this certificate to the court staff if they tell you to pay.
Get Your Divorce Information and Your Divorce Certificate with the Help of YG Law
There are several ways of obtaining divorce information in Canada. The best way will depend on when and where the divorce was conducted. However, you cannot access other people’s divorce records without their consent and without good reason. This might pose a challenge, especially if you want to know the divorce status of a prospective partner. Perhaps you want a divorce certificate to help you remarry. You can make the process of obtaining divorce records easier by seeking the help of a lawyer. Contact Gertsoyg & Company for more information.