What is better, a joint petition or a sole petition for divorce?

This does not apply to Quebec. In fact nothing in this site applies to Quebec.
You may not file a joint divorce based on adultery or cruelty.
A joint petition does not guaranty a divorce.
A joint petition is not faster.

Joint Divorce Petition
It is called an application in Ontario; a petition just about everywhere else, so I shall use the term petition. As it implies, the term joint means that you apply together. One of you is the Petitioner or applicant, and the other is the co-petitioner, and in principal you both apply for divorce, you both agree to the facts and you both sign things.

In the real world what usually happens is that one person takes the lead and starts the process and the soon-to-be-ex co-operates by signing things.

Perhaps you get along just fine, and you both agree to get this done without a fight. So one advantage is that it is not a surprise.

The joint divorce process eliminates the need for you to have someone hand your spouse his/her divorce papers. This is called ‘service’ and it always reminds me of a fedora clad figure lurking beneath a street lamp on a foggy night. Service can be difficult and sometimes a wee bit stressful.

By eliminating the ‘service’ you also eliminate the wait time for a response, because there is no requirement for a response, because you have established that you both agree and have full knowledge, and …. you get the idea.

Bad News about Joint
You do not save any time with a joint application/petition. But you just read that you eliminate the service step and the wait time, and that is true. As soon as you file your joint petition a pink and green form goes to the Divorce Registry in Ottawa where busy clerks check for duplicate petitions or a previous divorce. This clearance process can take 4 to 8 weeks.

And while the clerk waits for ‘clearance’ your file sits collecting dust. And you could have used this time for ‘service’.

Long distance romance when you are both willing is bad enough, but a long distance joint divorce needs twice the co-operation.

“Now he won’t sign. There are no children and no money involved…he’s just being difficult.”
from Debbie M.

You thought he/she would simply agree and sign away. After all there is nothing to argue about, and you both agree to the divorce and to follow the rules. Too often a joint divorce petition falls apart because one spouse decides not to sign, or delays things for weeks on end. Perhaps because it is a good time make a deal, or simply because somebody at work says you are not being fair, or the legal sounding stuff forced him/her to run to a lawyer. Who knows? The problem is that you have gone to the trouble and expense and without his/her signature you are now left with papers that you use to line the bird cage. (Unless you have me in your corner, then you’ll simply receive new papers).

A joint petition means that you both agree, but it does not mean that the court agrees. You can not use a joint petition to circumvent the rules, or use a joint petition for “collusion”.

Sole Divorce Petition
Sole means one. It takes only one person to start and complete the divorce process. And here is a quick overview of the sole divorce process.
You have your papers prepared and you alone sign what I will call the ‘Step 1’ papers. Sometimes it is called a Statement of Claim and sometimes it is just called a petition or application.
You file this first set of papers with the court. The amount of paperwork varies by province but basically each province follows the same general procedures.
Just like the joint petition the ‘clearance’ is required from Ottawa.
While you are waiting for clearance you ‘serve’ your spouse with his/her official court copy of your divorce petition. The premise is that your spouse needs to be informed that a divorce is in the works.
Your spouse has time to make a defence or to make a counter-claim. If no counter-claim or answer has been filed in time then your divorce petition is golden. But you still need to follow the rules.
Then comes the second round of paperwork which I call ‘Step 2’. After the ‘service’ has occurred you are required to file Affidavits and support documents so the court can reach its decision. This set of paperwork is very similar and often the same as the papers with a joint petition.

Advantage to Sole Petition
You do not need his or her co-operation, approval or permission. Your spouse does not have to sign things or even agree to the divorce. See the rules.
You have more control of the process and its timing.

Bad News About Sole Petition.
You do all the work and usually pay the court costs and prep fees.
You have the right to ask the court to award costs, but by doing so it also adds the risk of a negative response from the other side.
Part of the work is to do the ‘service’ thing, and it means that you need to have a third party do the service.
You need to wait for a response or a no response, and that can be a little stressful.
What If I can not locate my Ex?

OK, a joint petition is not in the cards, so the Q has to do with how to serve an ex if you don’t even know if he/she is in the same country, or even alive. There is a legal process for asking the court for allowing a different style of service and if you are a client I’ll share the steps.

It’s True. When you hire me to prepare your legal package your divorce goes smoothly and quickly. You make two trips to the court counter. You hand over your completed documents knowing that your papers are correct and in accordance with the Divorce Act and the Child Support Guidelines.

The fee to prepare your legal documents and guide you through the system is a modest $249. There are no hidden fees, no taxes, no handling fees, no shipping charges

Send your on-line application, it will take only 2 minutes