divorce in ontario

Toronto lawyer expects spike in divorces in Ontario when courts reopen

A Toronto lawyer is predicting that divorce rates in Ontario and the rest of Canada will likely soar once courts are allowed to reopen following months of enforced isolation amid the global pandemic. 

Toronto family lawyer Barry Nussbaum of Nussbaum Family Law says his firm is experiencing a 20 per cent increase in inquiries from people looking to file for divorce compared to before the outbreak.

"We're getting daily calls from people who aren't used to having their spouse around 24-7, saying they've 'had it' and 'want out' of their marriage immediately," Nussbaum said in a statement. 

He added that couples already dealing with marital issues when the lockdown began have seen tensions rise after being isolated together, and this phenomenon isn't unique to Canada. 

"Canada seems to be following the same trend as other countries, such as China and Italy, that saw a spike in broken marriages once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted," Nussbaum said. 

Canada's divorce rate currently sits at 38 per cent, but Nussbaum predicts it will reach a record high this year.

He says breakups are also occurring due to financial stress, boredom, lack of alone time and space to pursue personal interests, and conflicts regarding kids and household responsibilities.

But while many may be looking to file for divorce as soon as courts reopen, Nussbaum warns that delays are to be expected thanks to backlogs, and he also has some other advice for those wanting to get out of an unpleasant situation. 

"No matter how desperate you feel, don't do anything without first speaking with a lawyer. Taking the law into your own hands can be risky, as one wrong move may hurt your case and negatively impact your future, from custody and parenting roles to financial obligations," he said in the statement.

He also recommends staying in your current home despite the urge to move out.

"Leaving the marital home comes with serious consequences, including affecting your custody rights and interest in the property," he said.

Nussbaum also suggests organizing and collecting financial documents that will be requested by the courts, including pay stubs, financial statements, documents supporting debts and loans, and tax returns and assessments for the last three years.

"Once the floodgate of divorce cases eases up, things will move quickly, so it's best to be proactive," he said. 

"Start working on your divorce application now with the help of an experienced lawyer. Getting legal counsel is key as every case is unique and couples who try to navigate the complex legal system on their own may find their court applications rejected, adding complications to an already stressful situation."

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