Getting a divorce in British Columbia is luckily a very straight forward process and it has 2 main stages. The first stage consists of filing of the claim for divorce, in legal terms filing the “Notice of Family Claim”, at the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which then leads to the service of the claim for divorce. The service involves delivering, in person, a copy of the claim for divorce that was filed at the court, to the other party of the marriage, so he or she becomes aware that his or her former partner has filed for divorce.
The second stage begins after the service of the notice of family claim, and consists of waiting for a response from the other person in the marriage, the one who did not file for divorce – and if no response or counterclaim is filed within 30 days, then a request for an order of divorce is filed. A divorce can be obtained in as little as 3 to 4 months, depending on the court processing times.
What many people do not know, is that as long as you have been living separate and apart from your partner for at least one year, anyone who has been residing in British Columbia for at least one year, with a legal status, regardless of what type of status or their citizenship, can apply for divorce. This means that if you are a visitor to Canada, who has been residing in British Columbia for at least 1 year, then you can apply for divorce, even if you were not married here in British Columbia and your former partner lives outside of British Columbia. However, the legal test of whether a foreigner may be deemed a “ordinary resident” of BC is very fact specific and you should consult a legal professional to assess your unique situation.
Of course, there are some other requisites that would have to be met, which your legal advisors will further explain, but as mentioned before, British Columbia gladly makes it fairly easy to obtain a divorce.
At this point you are probably wondering what if my former partner does not currently resides in British Columbia or even in Canada, how can I hand him the divorce papers in order to comply with the above mentioned service requirement? Well, the copy for the family claim would have to be mailed to someone who lives in his/her territory of residence, someone who is able to deliver the document, in person, obtain a copy of the other party’s official identification and sign an affidavit. There are some professional agents that provide this service too. And importantly, the person who hands in the divorce papers cannot be the person who is filing for divorce, but it can be anyone else who is of legal age; in practice usually clients choose a relative or friend for situations where the former partner does not reside in Canada, and when he or she also resides in Canada it is usually arranged by the law firm or by specialists who provide this service.
Although getting a simple divorce is easier; it is the ancillary issues which consume the majority of the time. For instance, property division, spousal support, child support, guardianship, parental responsibilities and parenting time. Resolving these matters out of court is the most cost-effective and efficient for all parties involved. This can be achieved through negotiation and/or mediation and the resulting resolution can be drafted into a separation agreement.