Availability of Divorce Records in Ontario
Divorce files are usually filed at the county courthouse where the divorce hearing took place.
Are Ontario divorce records public?
All Canadian provinces, except for Quebec, presume that all civil and family litigation matters are public. There is a very high bar for restricting the public’s access to court files. However, section 137(2) of the Courts of Justice Act, allows a party to make an application to the court to seal the court file.
The test that parties must meet to have their court file sealed was outlined by the Supreme Court in R v Mentuck. In order to keep a court file private, one of the spouses must ask the court to restrict the openness of the court file and any court appearances. Before a court will restrict the public’s access, the court must determine that restricting access is necessary to prevent a serious risk to the administration of justice. If it is necessary, the court must find a balance between the salutary effects of restricting the public’s access and the deleterious effects on the rights of the parties. Where matters in the divorce proceedings may adversely affect the children, the Mentuck test is applied less rigorously, but court files are still rarely sealed in their entirety.
How do I find public divorce records?
The first step to find a divorce file is to know when the divorce took place. For divorces that occurred between 1987 to the present, the files are available only through the Superior Court of Justice courthouse where the divorce was filed.
Next, you will need the file number, the year of the divorce and the name of the county or district where the divorce took place. For divorces that occurred from 1968 to the present, you will need to contact the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings (CRDP) either by phone or by accessing their website and printing a search request and mailing it to them. When contacting the CRDP by phone, you should provide your full name at birth and your birth date as well as the name and birth date of your former spouse, the date of marriage and the approximate date of your divorce.
If you are looking for another person’s divorce file, you must use the indexes that are produced by the Supreme Court of Ontario to obtain the file number. Divorce files for 1986 and after are available only through the local courthouse where the divorce was filed.
How do I check the status of my divorce in Canada?
In order to check the status of your divorce you must contact the court that processed the divorce application. If you do not know which court this is, the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings can provide you with the address of the court and the reference number which you can give to court officials to help them find their file.
If you are contacting the Registry by phone, ensure that you have the full name and date of birth for both you and your former spouse and the date that you married.
For more information please visit out article about the availability of divorce records.