Family Law Blog

How Long Do I Need to be Separated Before Filing for Divorce?

How Long Do I Need to be Separated Before Filing for Divorce?

Looking to file for a divorce in British Columbia? Separating as a married (or common-law) couple is a complex process. Under BC law, only the Supreme Court can grant a divorce and certain conditions, usually including a time requirement of one year of separation, must be met to gain approval. In this week’s blog, we’re examining the basic requirements for divorce and the legal steps you must satisfy in BC.

Separation – The First Step

One of the main requirements for a divorce in BC is that the couple has separated. Whether you’re married, or engaged in a common-law relationship, whether you are considered separated in the eyes of the law will usually depend on whether you satisfy the following criteria:

  • At least one spouse communicates to the other, directly or by their actions, an intention to separate permanently

Like any other aspect of the law, evidence is key. Express your desire to separate in whatever way is the most comfortable for you, but it may be prudent to back it up with some form of written proof of your intentions. The date you separate will become important later on so consider sending an email or text message detailing that you’re now separated and keep a record of it.

Filing for a Divorce – Step Two

At this point, it may be helpful to enlist the services of a family law expert such as the team at Westside Family Law. We will walk you through your options and ensure you’re positioned to enjoy the best outcome from your divorce.

Claims for divorce in British Columbia are handled by our Supreme Court. Assuming there are no related claims or counterclaims to settle (for example, property division or parenting arrangements) a simple divorce should be approved if all of the following criteria are met:

  •   You (or your spouse) have lived in British Columbia for a year or more
  •   You can demonstrate that your marriage has broken down and you have been separated for at least one year
  •   The court is satisfied that you have made reasonable arrangements for any children of the marriage, including child support arrangements

The Question of the Time Requirement

A couple can apply for a divorce at any time after they formally separate. It can even be the next day for the initial application. However, the BC Supreme Court will NOT grant the divorce until a couple has been separated for at least one year. This is why it’s critical to keep a record of the date of separation to avoid any unnecessary delays or disagreements.

Step Three – The Divorce is Finalized

Once the divorce has been granted, it doesn’t become finalized for a period of 31 days. This allows time for any appeals to be filed with the court. Neither party can re-marry until the 31-day period has elapsed. Both ex-spouses can request a divorce certificate confirming the divorce, and the date it took effect.

Talk to a Family Law Expert About Divorce

No matter what area of family law you need assistance with, the expert team at Westside Family Law is standing by to help. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.