1. Contact the family court to file your Petition and Designation of Address for Service.
Call 902-368-6000 for the Charlottetown courthouse. Call 902-888-8125 for the Summerside courthouse. They will tell you when to bring your forms to the courthouse. They may tell you to send your forms digitally first, so they can check them before you bring in a printed version.
There is a filing fee. Ask the family court what it is.
If you are receiving social assistance or partial assistance, you may be eligible to have court fees waived by the Prothonotary (a court official). The Prothonotary may ask you to provide proof of assistance. Contact the Prothonotary’s office at 902-368-6067.
2. Bring your forms and other documents to the courthouse.
When you file forms at the courthouse, you will sign and date them in front of a court clerk. The court clerk will keep the originals. Usually, you will leave your documents at the court and come back later to pick up your copies. The court clerk will give you stamped copies after they file your documents.
Make sure you have these documents:
- Original Vital Statistics Marriage Certificate – original and 1 copy
- Petition for Divorce and Designation of Address for Service
- originals plus 3 copies if you have children
- originals plus 2 copies if you have no children
- Copy of any agreement about your marriage or separation, including a Separation Agreement – where available
If there are dependent children:
- Birth Certificates for each dependent child – original and 1 copy
- Proof of current income – for both you and your spouse
- Most recent income tax return and Canada Revenue Agency Notices of Assessment/Reassessment – for both you and your spouse, where available
3. Arrange service to your spouse.
To serve means to deliver by a third party. You can’t serve the documents to your spouse yourself. A Divorce Petition and Designation of Address for Service must be served within 6 months of being filed at the courthouse.
Documents can be served in one of these ways:
Service by Friend or Acquaintance
A server is the person who is serving the documents. The server must be 18 years or older.
Give the server:
- A stamped copy of the Divorce Petition,
- A stamped copy of the Designation of Address for Service, and
- An Acknowledgement of Service form.
Your spouse keeps the copy of the Petition and the Designation of Address for Service. Your spouse can decide to sign the Acknowledgement of Service or not sign it. If your spouse does not sign the Acknowledgement of Service, the server must complete an Affidavit of Service.
The server gives you:
- The Acknowledgement of Service, completed and signed by your spouse and the server, or
- An Affidavit of Service, completed and signed by the server.
You must file the Acknowledgement of Service or Affidavit of Service with the family court.
If your spouse lives in the United States, contact their county court. Ask for the name and address of people who serve documents. If your spouse lives in another country, contact a person in that country to arrange service for you.
Service by registered mail
Mail a copy of the stamped Divorce Petition and Designation of Address for Service an Acknowledgement of Receipt card by registered mail. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope so your spouse can return the Acknowledgement of Receipt card to you. Canada Post has a website where you can track registered mail and print your proof of service.
Don’t use this option if you believe your spouse will not return the Acknowledgement of Receipt card.
Service by a professional Process Server or by a third party
Professional process servers charge a fee. Most professional process servers use their own Affidavit of Service. You can find Process Servers at www.CanadianProcessServing.com, www.UnitedStatesProcessServing.com or by calling 1-800-465-7378.
Note that Sheriff Services on PEI no longer serve divorce papers. Sheriff Services in other provinces may still do so.
If you don’t know your spouse’s current address, you may need legal advice. You may have to apply to the court for an order for substituted service or an order to not serve your spouse.
4. If there are children of the marriage and they are under 18 years old, send the Director of Child Protection the letter in your forms and a copy of the stamped Petition for Divorce and Designation of Address for Service.
If you have dependent children, your divorce can’t go ahead until you have received a letter from the office of the Director of Child Protection to say they will not intervene in the case. The Director’s office will send an original letter to the family court and a copy to you. This usually takes a few weeks. If you receive a letter that says that Child Protection will intervene in the case, talk to a lawyer.
The date of service is the date your spouse receives the Petition. After the date of service, you must wait:
- 20 days if your spouse was served on PEI.
- 40 days if your spouse was served elsewhere in Canada or in the United States.
- 60 days if your spouse was served outside of North America.
You must also wait for a Clearance Certificate to arrive from the Federal Government. This can take 4 to 6 weeks.