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Porter Ramsay Blog

What are the grounds for divorce in British Columbia?

A married couple who realizes their union no longer works may decide, after much soul searching, to file for divorce. Often, this comes after painstaking measures, such as counseling or couples therapy. If even these steps did not mend the rift between you and your spouse, you may already be thinking about the positive aspects of a post-divorce life. However, how do you start on that journey? 

In British Columbia, couples must follow certain guidelines before the courts will grant a divorce. These steps may seem long and frustrating, but the government has put them in place to protect the rights of spouses and to minimize the cases of fraud and connivance. If you or your spouse have lived in British Columbia for at least one year, you may be eligible to begin the divorce process in this province. 

Separate and apart 

Canadian family courts will want to know why you are ending your marriage. You must demonstrate that one of you has committed adultery, been cruel or abusive to the other, or that you have lived separate and apart for at least a year. “Separate and apart does not necessarily mean you have to move out. In fact, it can be much cheaper if you and your spouse can agree to live separately in the same home, such as setting up a bedroom in the guest room. 

The one-year countdown begins on the day when you or your spouse announce to the other that you want a divorce. While you do not need any formal document and you do not have to agree that you want a divorce, it is important that you stop doing the following together even if you are living in the same house: 

  • Sharing meals 
  • Sleeping in the same bed 
  • Being physically intimate 
  • Doing household tasks together 
  • Attending family events together 
  • Maintaining common finances 

On the other hand, if your divorce is based on your spouse’s cruelty or adultery, you must provide the court with evidence of these accusationsIn some cases, spouses will sign affidavits, admitting their wrongdoing, or you may submit police or medical reports, witness accounts or photos. Without credible evidence, you may not convince the court to grant your divorce. For this reason, many people opt to file for divorce based on living separate and apart no matter the real reason for the breakup.