There are two legal requirements to apply for divorce in British Columbia. The first requirement is that your situation must qualify as marriage breakdown. The second requirement is that the British Columbia Supreme Court must have jurisdiction to hear your divorce action.
Under the Divorce Act, marriage breakdown is the only admissible ground for divorce. Marriage breakdown can be established by adultery, cruelty or separation of one year.
Separation of one year is the preferred ground to establish marriage breakdown in an uncontested divorce. Proof of separation is provided to the court by affidavit, which does not require a court appearance. If your marriage broke down as a result of adultery or cruelty, it is still possible to obtain a divorce on the basis of separation of one year.
The date of separation is the date when one or both spouses have decided the marriage has ended. Usually it means that one spouse moves out but in some cases the spouses can continue to reside under the same roof for some time until new arrangements are made. In the interim, the spouses have separate households within the same house and no longer function as a family unit.
- You may attempt to reconcile during the period of separation and still use the original date of separation as long as you and your spouse did not reconcile for a period totalling not more than 90 days.
- You may expedite the process and file for divorce in British Columbia anytime after separation. Although the court cannot grant the divorce until you have been separated for one year this will reduce the total time it takes to obtain a divorce.
Jurisdiction of the Court
You can apply for a divorce in British Columbia if either
you or your spouse has ordinarily resided in British Columbia for the past year. Proof of residence is provided to the court by affidavit, which does not require a court appearance.