Serving Divorce Papers

Ready to serve your divorce documents, but don’t know where to start or how? Axess Law gives you practical legal advice on serving documents for an uncontested divorce in Ontario, joint or simple divorce.

We can refer you to reputable process servers or advise on how to deliver documents yourself or through a third party. Serving documents correctly is essential to filing for and getting a final divorce order from Ontario family court. 

Ask us about our affordable legal services for divorcing couples. 


You’ve Been Served

Serving your spouse or their lawyer means delivering legal notices and court documents. It informs them of legal actions, requests to mediate or upcoming administrative tribunal dates.

Usually, documents are hand delivered to your spouse’s home. Occasionally though, you may have to use alternative or substitute service. You or a process service can request the court’s permission to give the documents to someone in their household, deliver or mail them to a workplace or employer or tack the claim to their door.


How to Serve Divorce Papers 

You can get divorce papers to your spouse or their lawyer by regular or special service. Be careful to meet the required timelines. That will give the other party enough time to respond.


Regular Service

Most divorce documents can be served by regular service. That means you can serve the documents by sending them to your spouse or their lawyer by email, mail, fax or courier (same- or next-day service).  

Points to know:

  • Unless the other party consents or ordered in advance by the court, documents must be not more than 20 pages long.
  • Again, unless the other party consents, trial or appeal records, factums or a book of authorities can’t be faxed.
  • You can deposit documents at your spouse’s or their lawyer’s document exchange.
  • If they agree or a judge orders it, you can also serve documents by electronic document exchange. 

Axess Law can advise you how to arrange document exchanges.


Special Service

Only an adult family member, friend or process server can deliver documents by special service — you cannot deliver these documents yourself. 

Special service options include:

  • leaving a copy with the person being served, their lawyer of record or lawyer you accepts service by writing on the document
  • mailing a copy, with a Form 6 Acknowledgement of Service for the person being served to return by mail 
  • or giving a copy addressed to the person to an adult living at their address. Mail a second copy to the address the same day or next.

You can get names of process servers online.



Some documents can only be delivered by special service. The Axess Law team can advise you if your documents qualify for regular or special service and when you must use a third party for delivery. You may need a process server, friend or family member to help you out. 


Finding Your Spouse

A spouse who moves often or left no forwarding address can be tricky to locate. Still, you can:

  • Serve documents when they leave work
  • Pass documents to them at their gym
  • Ask current or former colleagues for help
  • Check post offices and online for forwarding addresses
  • Google 411 or Yellow Pages services online
  • Scour Facebook or LinkedIn
  • Pay a private detective or skip tracer.


Serving Foreign Spouses

A foreign spouse or spouse living outside Canada can be served in most countries using the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (the “Convention”). 

If you’re serving documents outside of Canada, these special rules may apply to you. They could impact how you are allowed to proceed.


If Usual Service Fails

Ask the court to deliver your documents using a substitute service. You might be able to serve a family member or mail a copy to their work. Inform the court:

  • what you did you find and serve your partner
  • if a process service was tried
  • what you know about your partner’s whereabouts
  • why you think the proposed substitute service will work.


Dispensing With Service

When all else fails, you could ask the court to dispense with service. While unusual, the court may give permission if you show reasonable efforts were made to find your partner and no other substitute services are available that can ensure they receive the documents.


What If Your Spouse Refuses Delivery

Your spouse can refuse to accept divorce papers from a process server or you. But that doesn’t void the papers. Simply leaving the documents near or beside your spouse is enough. They are “served”, regardless of your spouse’s response. Legal action goes ahead and if they repeatedly refuse to accept documents, you can make that part of the legal proceedings.


Why You Need a Lawyer

Our experienced family lawyers explain every step and answer questions you may have about ending a marriage that is no longer satisfying. 

We help couples who have jointly decided to get divorced and need assistance completing forms and filing documents to court. If you got married in a foreign country or your spouse is not a Canadian citizen, we can provide independent legal advice on how to divorce a spouse who is in a foreign country or divide foreign property.

We keep your costs low because we understand applying for divorce is a difficult and often costly decision. Our team is there with you, every step of the way, to make getting a divorce as smooth as possible.

Simple, joint or uncontested divorces don’t have to be complicated. Axess Law prepares  application forms and files them to court for just $699.99 plus court fees. And if you need more legal advice for contested matters, we refer you to legal partners you can trust.


Documents We Need

Bring valid Ontario photo ID, your marriage certificate (if filing for simple, joint or uncontested divorce) and drafts or final marriage contracts, cohabitation agreements or separation documents to your first meeting. We review all your documents to give you the best advice on your options.


Online Bookings 7 Days a Week

You can connect with us via online video call from anywhere in Ontario. Our law offices are open 7 days a week and we have lawyers near you in Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa. Book an appointment by using our convenient online booking form or dialing our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line (1-877-402-4277 for toll free calls). Parking is available onsite and we’re close to transit.