Automatic Divorce After Long Separation In Canada

Automatic Divorce After Long Separation In Canada

When a marriage breaks down, divorce often follows. But what if a couple has lived separately for years without taking legal action? In Canada, there is a law that allows for automatic divorce after a long separation. This legal option provides a straightforward path to ending a marriage when spouses have clearly drifted apart. Without requiring negotiations or court appearances, automatic divorce simplifies splitting up after separation. This important policy helps people move on with their lives. Exploring the details around this automatic divorce process reveals how Canadian law adapts to changing social norms about marriage and relationships. Let’s explore the possibility and its implications for Canadian couples.

Separation and Divorce: What's the Difference?

Separation and Divorce: What’s the Difference?

When couples decide they need some space because they’re not getting along, they might choose to live apart. This is called separation. However, when they decide to end their marriage officially, that’s when they get a divorce.

Getting a divorce means you have to go through a legal process, including going to court. Separation is less formal; you don’t need to do anything legal. You’re just living separately but are still married.

Understanding Marriage Separation Laws

Understanding Marriage Separation Laws

If you’re considering separation, remember that laws vary by province, so it’s crucial to check the regulations specific to your area. Nonetheless, there are common elements in separation laws across most jurisdictions, including:

  • Determining child custody: Who will the children live with?
  • Child support: Financial support for the children’s needs.
  • Spousal support: Financial assistance for a spouse, if applicable.
  • Property and asset division: How to divide shared belongings and assets.
Does Being Apart for a Long Time Cancel Your Marriage?

Does Being Apart for a Long Time Cancel Your Marriage?

No, just being separated for a long time doesn’t automatically end your marriage. That said, there’s a big difference between being separated and being divorced. To officially end your marriage, you need to go through the legal process in court. Only after getting divorced are you considered legally single and able to marry someone else. Without a divorce certificate, you’re still married in the eyes of the law, no matter if you’re living together or apart.

Qualifying for Automatic Divorce After Long Separation in Canada

Qualifying for Automatic Divorce After Long Separation in Canada

In Canada, despite common misconceptions, only in rare cases does separation automatically end a marriage.

One-Year-Long Separation

A notable ground for divorce is a separation lasting one year, which doesn’t automatically dissolve the marriage but can be used to file for divorce. Parties must demonstrate they’ve lived apart for this duration. Reconciliation attempts lasting less than 90 days won’t affect the process, allowing couples a chance to reconsider divorce.

Death of Married Partner

The death of a spouse is another situation where marriage ends automatically. 

Domestic Violence and Long Separation

Domestic violence can also initiate separation, potentially leading to divorce if prolonged. Victims may seek legal advice and may be entitled to compensation.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Canada?

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Canada?

Every divorce is different, so the time it takes to get divorced can change from one case to another. If both people agree on everything (an uncontested divorce), it usually takes about 4 to 6 months to finalize. But if there’s disagreement (a contested divorce), it could take a year or even longer. The more complicated things are, the longer you might have to wait to be officially divorced.

Can you get an automatic divorce if you're not a Canadian citizen?

Can you get an automatic divorce if you’re not a Canadian citizen?

Absolutely, it’s where you live in Canada, not whether you’re a citizen, that matters for getting an automatic divorce. If one of you lives in the province or territory where you’re applying, you can go ahead and apply for an automatic divorce.

Can you still finalize a divorce in Canada if your spouse refuses to sign the documents?

Absolutely. Even if your spouse isn’t cooperating by signing the divorce documents, you can proceed with the divorce in Canada. You’ll need to demonstrate to a judge that your marriage is irretrievably broken and fulfill a few other criteria for the divorce to be approved by the court.

Need Guidance on Automatic Divorce? How Can Zukerman Law Help?

Need Guidance on Automatic Divorce? How Can Zukerman Law Help?

If your spouse has been away from your marriage for a year or longer, you may be eligible for an automatic divorce. During this difficult time, don’t hesitate to get support from family lawyers. Their proficiency with the legal requirements will smooth the process and ensure you meet the standards.

Getting guidance or legal assistance from the family law professionals at Zukerman Law can greatly improve your chances of successfully filing for divorce, particularly if your spouse is uncooperative. For more information on how we can support you through this process, please reach out to the Zukerman Law Group.


Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.