5.8 Divorce

You may have come to an agreement and even have a separation agreement filed with the courts, but if you were married, you are still married until you get a court ordered divorce.  The good news is you can get a divorce without appearing in front of a judge. You simply need to file out the required forms and apply to the court.

You may be wondering if you should get a divorce or not. Who is divorce for, why you need it, and how do you go about getting one are all questions we will discuss.

To get a divorce you need to prove one of the following:

  1. One year separation – you and your spouse have lived apart for at least a year
  2. Adultery – Your spouse was unfaithful to you
  3. Cruelty – Your spouse was physically or mentally cruel to you

1. One Year Separation

One year separation criteria is satisfied by:

Announcement that the marriage is over and you want to get a divorce.


A one year period of living separate and apart

The main thing that the court is looking for is that one spouse had the intention to end the marriage and announced it to the other person.

Make sure that you record your separation date so that you can refer to it in the future.

The second thing the court is looking for is that you and the other spouse lived “separate and apart” for a period of one year.

The court has interpreted “separate and apart” in different ways depending on the situation. If you can live apart you should do so. It will allow you to reach the one year criteria more easily. If you are not able to live in a different place, make sure that you two are not living in a “marriage-like” relationship.

As long as you announce to the other person that you want a divorce and stop living in a “marriage-like” relationship with them, you should be able to prove a ground for a divorce.

Once the one year period passes, you can file for divorce either together by joint application or alone with a sole application. 

2. Adultery

Adultery means that your spouse was unfaithful and had extra marital affairs outside your marriage without your consent. Sometimes filing for divorce based on adultery is harder to prove. You might find if challenging to find concrete evidence and witnesses that can help you prove an adultery claim.

Even if you suspect adultery, it might be easier to go through a one year period of living separate and apart before filing for divorce than proving adultery.

3. Cruelty

Like adultery, proving that your spouse has been mentally or physically cruel during the marriage can be hard to prove. You may need to speak to a lawyer to get help.


If you are facing violence, go somewhere safe and get help right away.


Do I need to get a divorce?


A divorce is the proceeding you take to end a valid marriage. Annulment is the proceeding you take to end an invalid marriage (one spouse was already married to someone else, who was too young to consent to marry).   Annulments are rare.

No, you are not legally required to get a divorce. You may settle all key separation issues in an agreement or order without applying for a divorce. Some couples separate but remain married for personal or financial reasons.  However, if you do wish to remarry you will need to be granted a divorce from the BC Supreme Court before you can legally remarry.

How to Divorce

You need to apply to a court to grant you a divorce. You will either be faced with an uncontested or a contested divorce. In BC, only a Supreme Court of British Columbia can grant you a divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

If you and your former spouse agree on how to deal with the key issues you can apply for an uncontested divorce (also called a "desk-order divorce"). You can file an application jointly (joint application) or one of you applies (sole application) if the other does not respond it is an uncontested divorce.

Uncontested divorces are often a matter of filing the correct and complete documents to court. If you both agree on the issues you will likely be granted the divorce without you going to court.