How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before Divorce in Canada? - Zukerman Law

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before Divorce in Canada?

The decision to end a marriage is a difficult one, filled with emotional challenges. In Canada, the legal process of divorce requires a period of separation before a final decree can be granted. This blog post will guide you through the question: How long do you have to be separated before a divorce in Canada?
While navigating the legalities of separation and divorce can be complex, understanding the basic requirements can help ease some of the stress. This post will provide a clear overview, but remember, consulting with a lawyer specializing in family law is always recommended to ensure a smooth and informed process.

What is a Divorce Separation?

What is a Divorce Separation?

Separation happens when one or both spouses choose to live apart and end their marital relationship. Couples can be recognized as separated even if they continue living in the same home as long as specific conditions are fulfilled.
These conditions involve stopping marital relations, sleeping in separate rooms, managing finances individually, and showing a clear intention from one or both spouses to end the marriage. The separation period serves as a time for reflection, negotiation, and preparation for potential legal proceedings.

What is the One-Year Requirement?

What is the One-Year Requirement?

According to the Divorce Act, a divorce must be approved if the couple remains apart for a minimum of a year. This time serves several functions for couples: it gives them the opportunity to reevaluate their choices and resolve issues with property distribution, child and spousal support, and custody agreements.
It’s crucial to remember that although the divorce procedure might begin earlier than the one-year mark, the divorce won’t actually be finalized until after the year has passed.

Exceptions to the One-Year Separation Period

Exceptions to the One-Year Separation Period

In the context of divorce law, the one-year separation period is a common requirement before a divorce can be finalized. However, certain exceptions to this requirement can allow couples to bypass the waiting period. These exceptions can vary depending on the jurisdiction but typically include the following:

Adultery: If one spouse can prove that the other has committed adultery, it can serve as grounds for an immediate divorce without the need for a separation period.
Cruelty or Abuse: Cases involving physical, emotional, or psychological abuse can expedite the divorce process. If a spouse can demonstrate that continuing the marriage would result in harm or danger, the court may waive the separation requirement.
Desertion: If one spouse has abandoned the other for a specified period (often a year or more, depending on the jurisdiction), this can be grounds for an immediate divorce.
Mutual Consent: In some jurisdictions, if both parties agree to the divorce and there are no minor children involved, the separation period may be shortened or waived.
Imprisonment: If a spouse is incarcerated for a certain length of time (usually over a year), the other spouse may be able to file for divorce without waiting for a separation period.
Insanity: If a spouse has been confined to a mental institution for a certain period, the other spouse may file for divorce without the separation period.
These exceptions aim to provide relief in situations where waiting for a year would cause undue hardship or where the marriage is clearly unsustainable. It’s important to consult local laws or a legal professional to understand the specific exceptions and requirements in your jurisdiction.

The Role of Legal Counsel in Separation and Divorce

Navigating the complexities of separation and divorce can be challenging, which is why legal counsel plays a crucial role in this process.
A family lawyer provides essential guidance in understanding the legal implications of separation. They help clarify what constitutes separation, the requirements to prove it, and how to document it appropriately.
They also offer support in negotiating terms, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody arrangements, making the process smoother and less stressful.
Zukerman Law Group stands out as a premier choice for those navigating separation and divorce, offering unparalleled expertise and a client-centered approach.

  • Expertise in Family Law: The Zukerman Law Group specializes in family law, bringing extensive knowledge and experience to each case. Our team stays updated on the latest legal developments and employs best practices to ensure favorable outcomes for their clients.
  • Client Testimonials and Successful Case Studies: We have a proven track record of success, as demonstrated by numerous client testimonials and case studies. These stories highlight our dedication, professionalism, and ability to achieve positive results even in complex situations.
  • Contact Information for Consultations: For those seeking legal assistance, Zukerman Law Group offers consultations to discuss individual cases and provide tailored advice. Potential clients can reach out via our website or contact us to schedule an appointment.


In Canada, if the reason for divorce is marriage breakdown, you typically need to be separated for a minimum of one year before a divorce can be finalized.
While this blog post has provided a general overview, it’s important to remember that the legal aspects of separation and divorce can be complex, especially when children, finances, and property are involved.
The emotional impact of divorce is undeniable, and with the added complexity of legal proceedings, the process can feel overwhelming. Seeking professional guidance becomes crucial at this point.
Zukerman Law Group understands the challenges you face. Our team of compassionate and experienced family lawyers can provide the legal support and guidance you need throughout your separation and divorce journey.


  • 1- Are you automatically divorced after five years in Canada?1

    No, there is no such thing as an “automatic divorce” in Canada. Regardless of the length of separation, you must apply for a divorce through the court system to legally terminate your marriage.

  • 2- Do you have to be legally separated to get a divorce in Canada?1

    When married individuals or those in an ‘adult interdependent relationship’ end their relationship and start living apart, they are considered separate. While there is no concept of ‘legal separation’ in Canada, being separated for a year is a valid ground for divorce.

  • 3- How fast can you get a divorce in Canada?1

    You can obtain a divorce without appearing in court. The process involves completing several forms, filing them with the court, paying the filing fees, and waiting for your application to be processed. Your divorce order can be finalized within three to four months and may cost less than $500.

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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.