Divorce: Main Steps in the Court Process


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1 – Application for Divorce

The process starts when one of the spouses files this document in court. 

A spouse can also make a formal request for a safeguard order to deal with emergencies or for provisional measures to settle issues temporarily (e.g., child custody). 

The other spouse gets official notice of the application and other requests. 

This is called service. That spouse has 15 days to answer.


2 - Presenting Requests

The spouses go to court if a safeguard order or provisional measures are requested.

This is not the trial.

Requests for provisional measures must be made in court 10 days or more after service. Requests for a safeguard order can be made earlier.

The judge can decide to give a temporary safeguard order.


3 - Filing a Case Protocol

The spouses agree in writing on what to do before the trial and how to do it (e.g., question witnesses, get an expert opinion, fix deadlines).  

The case protocol must be filed within three months after service.


4 - Hearing on Provisional Measures

The judge listens to both spouses and decides on provisional measures. This happens a few months after the court process started.

The judge decides on provisional measures (e.g., child custody, child support). 

The decision is temporary.


5 - Fixing the Trial Date

To get a trial date, all documents must be ready within one year after the judge accepts the case protocol


6- Trial

The trial can last from a few hours to a few days.

The judge must make a decision within six months.



The spouses can also get a divorce by agreement. The court process is different.

To learn more, go to the Separation and Divorce section of our Website.

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.