How to Get a Divorce

Divorce is the legal action that ends a marriage. To get a divorce, one spouse must start a legal action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. One of you must have lived in British Columbia for the past year. Even if you have been separated from your spouse for 50 years, you are not divorced until a judge orders that you are divorced.

There are only three reasons that you can get a divorce in Canada:

  1. You have been separated for at least one year,
  2. You or your spouse has committed adultery, or
  3. You or your spouse has been mentally or physically cruel to one another.

Sometimes your spouse will disagree with your application for divorce. However, if you can prove one of these reasons, a judge will give you a divorce even if the other person disagrees with the request.

If you have agreed about everything, you can write your own separation agreement. You can also get help from a Family Justice Counsellor (free), a lawyer or a mediator. Things like where the children live, financial support, and how to divide your property must be decided. You can give the separation agreement to the court with your application for divorce.  

If you have agreed about everything in a separation agreement, or already got a court order about other things like parenting time and financial support, then a judge can give you a divorce without you having to go to court. But the judge can only do that if he or she is sure everything else has been taken care of, especially the children. To get step-by-step instructions for a divorce when you and your spouse agree, see the Family Law in BC website’s do-it-yourself guide.

If you have not been able to agree on everything at the end of your relationship, you will have to go court and have a judge make decisions for you. This is called a trial. If your trial is in the Supreme Court, the judge can also give you a divorce when you go to trial.

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