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Canadian Divorce Glossary
If you're considering ending your marriage, learning to speak the "language" of divorce in Canada is an important first step. Below you will find a brief glossary of terms related to the separation process. These definitions are overviews, provided to help you begin to understand what is involved in ending a marriage.
Statute - Statutes are laws that have been passed by the federal Parliament or the provincial Legislatures. The governing statute in divorces is the federal Divorce Act. However, for property division and for unmarried couples, provincial statutes govern their rights and obligations.
Stress - Divorce is an inherently stressful process. To alleviate some of the stress, it is important to be proactive and in control of your case. An experienced lawyer, familiar with divorce proceedings, can work with you to keep you informed and calm throughout the process. The aid of a counselor or therapist, joining a support group, and talking to friends and family are important ways to de-stress during this difficult time.
Subpoena - A subpoena is a legal document that has been issued by the court that compels someone to give evidence as a witness, and sometimes, to produce a specific document. Failure to obey a subpoena may result in "contempt of court" which can carry with it both a fine and jail time.
Substituted Service - When an application for divorce is "served" on a spouse, it is delivered in person to the spouse. In some cases, it is difficult or impossible to serve your spouse in person. When that happens, the court may allow "substituted service," meaning that the documents may be delivered by a way other than physically handing it to your spouse. This may be by mail, by e-mail, by notice in a newspaper, or by sending it to a relative or to your spouse’s last known address.