6 Steps on How to Get a Divorce in BC - Zukerman Law

6 Steps on How to Get a Divorce in BC

The decision to divorce is rarely easy, and the legal process can seem daunting. This blog post simplifies the journey by providing a step-by-step guide to filing for divorce in British Columbia. We’ll break down the key procedures, answer common questions, and empower you with the knowledge needed to navigate this significant life change.

How to get a divorce in BC?

How to get a divorce in BC?

The legal path to divorce in British Columbia involves filing an application with the Supreme Court. However, the complexity of the process depends largely on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested.

Uncontested Divorce: A Streamlined Approach

An uncontested divorce is ideal for couples who have mutually agreed to end their marriage and can reach agreements on all divorce-related matters, including:

  • Child Support: Arrangements for financially supporting any children involved.
  • Spousal Support: Determining if spousal support is necessary and, if so, the amount and duration.
  • Property Division: Fair division of all marital assets and debts.
  • Child Custody (if applicable): Establishing a parenting plan that outlines decision-making and parenting time for children.

Because all issues are resolved beforehand, uncontested divorces are generally faster and less expensive than contested divorces.

Contested Divorce: Navigating Disagreements

A contested divorce arises when disagreements exist regarding child support, spousal support, property division, or child custody. In such cases, the court will make determinations on these matters after considering evidence and legal arguments presented by each spouse. This process can be lengthy and emotionally charged, making it essential to consult with a qualified family lawyer to protect your rights and interests.

6 Steps to Divorce in BC: A Practical Guide

6 Steps to Divorce in BC: A Practical Guide

Filing for divorce in British Columbia can feel overwhelming, but understanding the process can empower you. This section breaks down the key steps involved:

Step 1: Initiating the Process

The journey begins with a document called a “Statement of Claim for Divorce”. You, the initiator, become the “Plaintiff,” and your spouse becomes the “Defendant.” There’s also a “Statement of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property” option that tackles property division alongside the divorce itself. While not mandatory, it can streamline the process.

Step 2: Filing the Claim

Once completed and signed, the “Statement of Claim” needs to be filed at the Courthouse.

Step 3: Serving Your Spouse

The “Defendant” (your spouse) must be “served” with the “Statement of Claim” This means formal notification of the divorce proceedings. While personal delivery is ideal, a trusted friend, family member, or process server can handle it on your behalf. If personal service proves difficult, alternative methods like substitutional service or service outside of Canada may require a court order.

Step 4: Response and Waiting Period

Your spouse has a designated timeframe to respond (usually 20 days within Canada, extending for out-of-country responses). If they don’t dispute the claim, and if one year of separation has passed, you can proceed. This may involve filing additional documents like affidavits and a proposed “Divorce Judgment.”

Step 5: Review and Approval

The court will review the submitted documents and evidence. If satisfied, a “Justice” will sign the Divorce Judgment, officially dissolving the marriage. Copies will be mailed to both parties. This process typically takes 4-6 weeks.

Step 6: Finality and New Beginnings

Thirty-one days after the “Divorce Judgment” is signed, the divorce becomes final. You can then request a “Certificate of Divorce” from the courthouse an official proof of your single status. This document is crucial for remarriage and other legal purposes.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

The duration of a divorce in British Columbia can vary significantly depending on the level of complexity involved.
An uncontested divorce, where spouses amicably agree on all divorce-related issues beforehand, offers the fastest resolution. In such cases, the process can be completed in 3 to 6 months, from filing to receiving the final divorce order.
When property division, spousal support, or other matters remain unresolved, the timeline stretches. Your lawyers may attempt negotiation, which can take 6 months to 1.5 years. If negotiations fail and the court intervenes to make decisions, the process can become significantly longer.

Bottom Line: Navigating Divorce in BC

Divorce can be emotionally challenging, but understanding the legal process in British Columbia can empower you. This blog post has provided a roadmap outlining the differences between contested and uncontested divorces, a step-by-step guide to filing and realistic timeframe expectations.
Remember, while an uncontested divorce offers the fastest resolution, communication and reaching fair agreements are paramount. Consulting with a qualified family lawyer is highly recommended throughout the process, ensuring your rights are protected and a smooth outcome is achieved.
For further information or to discuss your specific situation, contact Zukerman Law today.
At Zukerman Law, we understand the complexities and emotional weight that accompany divorce. Our team of highly experienced and compassionate family lawyers in British Columbia is dedicated to providing you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.

author

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.