Demand Letters in the Divorce Process

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A demand letter is a formal document. It is sometimes called a "lawyer's letter," but you can write one yourself. 

A demand letter asks someone to do something or to stop doing something by a certain deadline. Most people do not associate demand letters with divorce. However, they are often used in situations of divorce.

Main Reasons for Using a Demand Letter During a Divorce

A demand letter is not a divorce application. It can be put into the court file, which the judge will read, but it is not necessary to have one as part of the court file.

The three main reasons for using a demand letter are listed below:

  1. to ask for certain things from the other spouse

    Example

    : Your spouse sends you a demand letter asking that you continue paying the mortgage. Also, since the children live with your spouse, she wants you to pay $500 each month to cover their expenses.

    Example: Your spouse sends you a demand letter asking you to return items that belong to her that are still in your possession.

  2. to ask the other spouse to stop doing something

    Example: Your spouse sends you a demand letter asking you to stop criticizing her in front of the children.

  3. so interest can start being charged on money one person owes the other

    Example: A spouse claiming money from the other spouse can tell the court in the divorce application that he wants to collect interest on the money. He can ask for interest to be calculated beginning on the date his spouse gets the demand letter.

Giving Additional Information

 You can also use a demand letter to do the following:

  • to tell your spouse you want to end the marriage
  • to let your spouse know what you plan to do

    Example: While you were married, your spouse took care of the children on his own. He wants to continue doing this according to the schedule he has provided.

  • to encourage your spouse to take part in mediation to reach an agreement on issues resulting from the divorce                                     
  • to offer to settle some issues on a temporary or permanent basis

    Example: Your spouse suggests that you pay for insurance and offers to pay the electrical and telephone bills in return.  

 Getting a Demand Letter

 If you get a demand letter, you can

  • do all or part of what your spouse is asking you to do,
  • ignore the letter or refuse to do all or part of what your spouse is asking, or
  • suggest something else to your spouse.

Before answering a demand letter, you should speak to a legal professional to learn more about your rights and obligations and whether your spouse is allowed to claim everything mentioned in the letter.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.