Divorces are an unfortunate fact of life for many Canadians. This stressful and emotionally draining process is something a large number of us will go through. In fact, four out of every ten marriages in Canada end in a divorce.
It’s something we hope we won’t ever experience, meaning most of us don’t have any knowledge on how divorces actually work. To demystify the process and clear up any misconceptions you may have, we’ve decided to list the steps involved in a divorce in British Columbia.
Start by Filing for a Divorce
The process begins by establishing one of the qualifying criteria to get divorced. Every divorce in British Columbia needs approval from the Provincial Supreme Court. To get this approval, you must demonstrate one of the following to the court:
- You have lived apart – been separated – for at least one year
- You (or your spouse) have lived in BC for a year or more
- You can demonstrate your marriage has broken down
- The court is satisfied you have made reasonable arrangements for any children, including child support.
Once you have satisfied all of the above criteria, you can proceed to apply for a divorce. This divorce can be a contested divorce, or an uncontested divorce. The difference is simple. A contested divorce signifies a disagreement between the two parties, while an uncontested (amicable divorce) is typically a more straightforward legal issue. Approximately 80 per cent of divorces in Canada are uncontested divorces.
What if it’s a Contested Divorce? How Does it Work?
A contested divorce doesn’t mean one party is refusing to get divorced. Instead, it signifies that both parties want to divorce, but can’t agree on one (or more) outstanding legal issues. Here are some of the most common issues we see as family law experts:
- Disagreements over parenting time, guardianship or custody of pets
- Child and spousal support payments following the divorce
- Division of family property such as real estate, debt and assets
At this point, separating spouses have several options to resolve their disagreement. They still retain the power to figure it out themselves. Or, they can go before a judge and let them decide. It’s worth noting, this process is fraught with stresses and can linger on for months awaiting a resolution. Before it gets to this undesirable point, here are the options available to you.
Work it out together – If communication lines between the two parties are open, a lot of disputes can be settled by sitting down together and talking it over. An honest and frank discussion, where both parties are open to compromise, can often yield results.
Work with a mediator – a mediator is a neutral third-party who is trained to facilitate impactful conversations between two parties in disagreement.
Talk to a lawyer – the divorce process is fraught with potential legal issues. The team at Westside Family Law understands the divorce process and can offer sound legal advice and representation at this difficult time.
Do I need a Lawyer to Divorce in BC?
While a lawyer is not required to get a divorce in BC, we can provide many helpful services and advice during the process. A family law expert, like the team at Westside Family Law, can give advice about your legal rights and responsibilities. A family lawyer is also helpful in negotiating an agreement with a former spouse to prevent leaving decisions to a judge.
Find Out More
Interested in discussing your legal options surrounding divorce? Our expert team is standing by to assist. Contact us and we’ll be happy to help!