Steps to Uncontested Divorce in BC | Zukerman Law

A Guide to Understanding Uncontested Divorce

When it comes to dissolving a marriage, many couples aim for the path of least resistance. What is an uncontested divorce vs. a contested divorce, and how do their processes differ significantly? In this guide, we’ll see how uncontested (undefended) divorces work and why they might be the preferred choices for many. This article guides you through the simple steps of getting a divorce without contest. After reading this article, you’ll discover how long an uncontested divorce takes in BC, the uncontested divorce process, and the cost implications.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce or a desk order divorce is a legal procedure for ending a marriage where both parties agree on all family law issues. In contrast, the contested divorce encompasses a scenario where couples dispute over key issues, necessitating court intervention. This article explains uncontested divorce in BC and provides a simpler procedure for dissolving marriages. You can apply for an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse have resolved all the issues related to your separation, such as property division, child support, and parenting arrangements. You also need to meet some other requirements, such as living in BC for at least a year and having grounds for divorce.

Opting for an uncontested divorce vs. a contested divorce means spending less money and finishing the process sooner than if you go for a contested divorce, which requires proving the faults of your partner or dealing with legal family issues in court. To get an uncontested divorce, you only have to fill out some forms and submit them to the court registry. A judge will review your application and grant you a divorce order if everything is correct. You don’t have to appear in front of the judge or attend a hearing. Your divorce will be final 31 days after the judge issues the order.

What are the Grounds for Divorce?

What are the Grounds for Divorce?

In BC, an uncontested divorce is grounded on the premise of marriage breakdown, evident through:

  • Separation for at least one year, signaling no intention to reconcile.
  • Adultery, that is where one spouse engages in a sexual relationship outside the marriage.
  • Cruelty, with one spouse subjected to intolerable treatment by the other.

The primary basis for an uncontested divorce is a one-year separation, with both parties agreeing on all divorce-related issues, including:

  • Child custody and access
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of property and debts

These agreements enable the application for a desk divorce—a streamlined process requiring:

  • No court appearance
  • Submission of an original marriage certificate
  • Independent legal advice to ensure the agreement’s fairness and enforceability.

Uncontested Divorce Process

As mentioned earlier, the uncontested divorce process shows how easy and quick it is to agree on the terms of a divorce. To sum up, for an uncontested divorce, you need to complete each of these steps:

  1. Eligibility Check: Confirm residency and grounds for divorce.
  2.  Make a separation agreement: Agree on all divorce-related issues. (Fill out the Requisition Form F17.1)
  3. Document Preparation: Fill out the necessary divorce forms. (Fill out the Registration of Divorce Proceedings form online.)
  4. Document Service: Deliver the documents to your spouse. (you can use Court Services Online)
  5. Application Submission: Apply with the court.
  6. Spouse’s Response: Wait for your spouse’s response.
  7. Finalization: Complete the final steps to finalize your divorce.
  8. Court Approval: Wait for the court to grant your divorce.
  9. Proof of Divorce: Obtain your certificate of divorce.

Court fees and legal fees

For an uncontested divorce in Canada, understanding the associated costs is crucial, involving both court and legal fees:

Court Fees

Typically, there are two main fees:

  • A $210 filing fee for initial documents.
  • A second $80 fee for the final application, with an additional $40 charge for a divorce certificate. These fees vary by jurisdiction.
  • Individuals unable to afford these fees may qualify for a fee waiver.

Legal Fees

These depend on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested:

  • Uncontested divorces average around $1,353, significantly lower than contested divorces.
  • Costs exclude additional expenses such as disbursements, mediation, etc.
  • Efforts to reduce expenses can include negotiation, mediation, or arbitration and seeking assistance from paralegals, legal aid, or justice access centers.

Conclusion

We’ve explored the concept of uncontested divorce, emphasizing the differences between uncontested and contested processes and delving into eligibility criteria. The steps for an uncontested divorce are summarized to include an eligibility check, crafting a separation agreement, document preparation, service, application submission, awaiting the spouse’s response, finalization, court approval, and obtaining a certificate. We also touched on divorce grounds (separation, adultery, cruelty) and explored associated costs, encompassing court and legal fees, with suggestions on potential cost-cutting strategies.

The Zukerman Law Group is here to help with any questions or legal assistance you need for an uncontested divorce.

Q&A

1) Why Do Most Couples in BC Prefer Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is favored for its speed, cost savings, and reduced stress, facilitating amicable resolutions and preserving relationships, particularly when children are involved. Legal guidance ensures enforceability.

2) How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in BC?

It typically takes four to five months, concluding with a finalization period of 31 days.

3) What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in BC?

A wife may be entitled to family property, spousal and child support, and parenting rights, varying by marriage length, contributions, and needs. Legal advice is recommended for specific entitlements.