When a Relationship Ends

Whether you are married or living with someone like a married couple, moving away from each other is all that you need to do to end the relationship. You do not need to see a lawyer or get a court order to prove you are separated. But you must start living “separate and apart” from one another, like when one of you moves out of the home. You can even be separated when you still live together in the same home if you are living separate lives and act like you are no longer a couple.

If you are married, you may want to get a divorce. You can learn about that step by reading the section called How to Get a Divorce.

You may still have legal responsibilities when you separate, whether you are a married or an unmarried couple. In the Family Law Act, husbands, wives, or the people who live together like a married couple are called “spouses”. When you separate, you may have to financially support your spouse or they may have to support you. This is called spousal support.

If you have children with someone, you always need to provide money to help support your children. This is called child support. This is true even if you were only dating the other parent or the children do not live with you.

For more about what the law says about separation, read the booklet Living Together or Living Apart.

Separating if you are new to Canada

What happens if you are new to Canada and want to separate from your spouse? Whether you are married or not, you can stay in Canada after separation if you are a permanent resident (landed immigrant). But you may not be able to stay in Canada after separation if you have conditional permanent resident status.

Your sponsor cannot make you leave Canada. If your sponsor says you must leave Canada because your sponsorship has broken down, this is not true. Only Canadian immigration authorities can order a person to leave the country.

For more about what the law says about sponsorship and separation, read Sponsorship Breakdown, available in several languages.

If you are being abused

If you are being abused by a spouse, partner, or a member of your family, it is wrong and help is available. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or the police. If you are not in immediate danger, call VictimLINK BC at 1-800-563-0808. This is a free, confidential and multilingual phone service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also text them at 604-836-6381 or email .

See the Family Violence section of this website for more information about domestic abuse.

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