Navigating the Divorce Process in B.C.

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In the province of British Columbia, divorce is a process that can be initiated by either or both spouses based on a minimum separation period of one year. Unlike in some regions, fault is not a determining factor, so choosing the application type depends on the applicants’ collaborative spirit. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about navigating the divorce process in B.C.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The B.C. Divorce Process


The Divorce Act is the legal framework that governs divorce in Canada. According to the Divorce Act, if you wish to apply for a divorce in British Columbia, either you or your ex-spouse must reside in the province for at least a year. It is not mandatory to be a Canadian citizen or to have gotten married in B.C. If one of you satisfies the residency requirement, the other person doesn’t have to be present or live in B.C. to complete the divorce process.

Grounds for Divorce

The only ground for divorce, according to the Divorce Act, is the breakdown of the marriage, which can be established in three ways:

  1. One-year separation.
  2. Adultery.
  3. Physical or mental cruelty.

However, when doing a divorce without a lawyer, it is always advised to proceed based on separation, even if the initial breakdown was something else, as it is relatively easy to apply.


Fault is not an issue. Either spouse can apply for divorce based on intentional physical separation for at least one year.

Determining the Date of Separation

The date of separation is the official date on which the marriage ended. Typically, this occurs when one spouse moves out of the shared residence. However, there are instances where both spouses may continue to reside under the same roof but lead separate lives for various reasons. In this situation, they would still be separated.


If you and your partner are taking some time apart, you are allowed to try to work things out for up to ninety days without affecting the original separation date. However, if you end up reconciling for more than ninety days, the separation date will be changed to the date the reconciliation ended.

Applying for Divorce Based on Separation

Although a separation of one year is required for a divorce, you can apply for it the day after separation. The requirement of a one-year separation only applies to the second filing.

Obtain Your Marriage Certificate

You will need a government-issued marriage certificate as proof of your marriage. Remember that the certificate will be filed in court and will not be returned to you.

If you don’t have your marriage certificate, please get in touch with the vital statistics office in the jurisdiction where you were married. We can help you obtain it, depending on where you got married. You can find more information about our Marriage Certificate Service.

Most importantly, a marriage certificate issued by a religious institution, or one that is laminated or not original, will not be accepted by the court.

Non-English Marriage Certificate

Your non-English marriage certificate must be translated into English. We suggest contacting a translator familiar with court requirements or using our translation service. Further information can be found on our website here: Marriage Certificate Translation Service.

Marriage Certificate Cannot Be Obtained

You can still get a divorce, but you must provide an affidavit that describes the facts of the marriage and the reason(s) a marriage certificate cannot be obtained. We can help you draft the affidavit, so please get in touch with us for a quote.

Court Filing Fees

When you file documents at the court registry, a fee known as a filing fee is charged. In the case of divorce, there are two mandatory filing fees and one optional fee. The first filing fee is $210, while the second filing fee is $80. If you choose to obtain a divorce certificate, which is not mandatory, there is a court fee of $40 for each certificate.

Please note that the court filing fee is not included in our divorce plans. You can pay the fees through our online store using a credit card or by money order when submitting your forms to us.

The Types of Divorce Applications in B.C.

In British Columbia, the law allows spouses to file for a divorce together. Alternatively, one spouse can apply for a divorce as a sole applicant without requiring the other spouse’s consent. Both processes are equal because they ultimately result in a court order granting a divorce.

Joint Divorce: A Cooperative Approach

A joint divorce involves both spouses participating in the application process. It is called a joint divorce because both parties work together to end the marriage. One of the benefits of a joint divorce is that it often takes less time and is less expensive than a sole divorce. This is because there is no need to serve divorce papers, which saves time and money. Here is a step-by-step guide to the joint divorce process:

  1. Complete our questionnaire.
  2. Purchase the plan that suits your needs.
  3. Generate the forms and instructions for step one from the Divorce App Dashboard.
  4. Both spouses sign and submit the step one forms and the marriage certificate.
  5. Then, we review and file step one in court, obtaining a court file number.
  6. Next, we’ll enable step two and let you know to proceed with the next step.
  7. Both spouses sign and swear the step two forms and send them to us.
  8. Then, we review and file step two in court.
  9. The court undertakes the document processing, which typically spans up to 4 weeks.
  10. Finally, we regularly check in with the court, ensuring a smooth process. Once the court’s response is received, we promptly forward it to you.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Joint Divorce

Ensuring that both spouses are committed to completing the divorce process is crucial. In case one spouse refuses to complete a step in a joint divorce, it can create a complicated situation. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for a sole divorce if there is any doubt. This will help to avoid the risk of an incomplete joint divorce, which can be difficult to resolve.

Get Started on Your Joint Divorce Journey Today!

Sole Divorce: Navigating the Path Alone

For those who opt for a sole divorce, where one spouse signs all the forms, and the other spouse is served with divorce papers, the process follows a slightly different route:

  1. Complete our questionnaire.
  2. Select and purchase the divorce plan that aligns with your requirements.
  3. Generate the forms and instructions for step one from the Divorce App Dashboard.
  4. The applicant signs and submits the step one forms and the marriage certificate.
  5. We file the forms in court and provide you with a copy of the Notice of Family Claim.
  6. Next, we’ll enable step two and let you know to proceed with the next step.
  7. Then, the applicant takes charge of serving the Notice of Family Claim to the other spouse, or we can arrange the process service for you.
  8. After the service is complete, there is a mandatory waiting period of 30 days to allow your spouse a chance to respond.
  9. Then, when the waiting period ends, the applicant signs and swears the step two forms and sends them to us.
  10. We review and file step two in court.
  11. Like the joint process, the court processes the documents, which may span up to 4 weeks.
  12. Finally, we check in with the court regularly and, upon receiving their response, promptly forward it to you.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Sole Divorce

In order to file for a sole divorce, the applicant must arrange for someone other than themselves to personally serve their spouse with the necessary legal papers. Personal service refers to the act of physically handing over the papers to the spouse.

If you don’t know where your spouse lives or works and have been unable to locate them despite your best efforts, there is still a way to proceed. We have a post on our website that explains how to get a divorce in British Columbia when you can’t find your spouse.

Embark on Your Sole Divorce Journey Today!