Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Divorce

Paine Edmonds - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

While it may be certain that your relationship with your spouse is over, getting a divorce is not necessarily easy; it can be a complex and confusing process. If you are considering divorce, you likely have questions about how to do so in Canada. Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions heard at Paine Edmonds LLP, divorce lawyers in Vancouver.

Am I Eligible For A Divorce?

In Canada, you can get a divorce if one of the following has occurred:

  • Your marriage has broken down and you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for at least one year (without reconciliation);
  • Your marriage has broken down due to adultery and you did not forgive the adultery or live with your spouse for more than 90 days after discovering the adultery; or
  • Your marriage has broken down because your spouse was physically or mentally cruel to the point of intolerability.

Do I Need To Go Through The Legal System To Get A Divorce?

Regardless of where you got married, if you (and/or your spouse) have lived in Canada for the past year and are seeking a divorce, you must obtain a divorce order to be legally divorced. Even if you have agreed on the details of separation with your spouse (such as child custody and support payments), you must obtain a divorce order from the court.

How Do I Begin The Divorce Process?

The first step to obtaining a divorce order is serving a notice of a family claim to your spouse’s legal representative (or otherwise your spouse) and filing it in the British Columbia supreme court. If you and your spouse agree on the reasons and grounds for divorce, you only need one divorce application.

Once you have served your spouse with the notice of a family claim, your spouse must respond within 30 days. If your spouse fails to respond, you can submit your affidavit for divorce, divorce order and clerk’s certificate to set a court date. If your spouse contests your divorce, then you may need to go through the legal system for a hearing, trial or appeal before you can obtain a divorce. Once the judge grants you a divorce order, you can then obtain a certificate of divorce after 30 days.

How Do I Get Spousal Support?

You may be entitled to spousal support by means of agreement or by a court order. If you and your spouse do not reach an agreement, you can still apply for spousal support within two years after the divorce is granted. The court will determine whether you are eligible for support and how much you are eligible for based on your financial situation, the length of the relationship, the roles of each spouse and what the claimant requires to become self-sufficient.

Who Gets Custody Of The Children?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on a custody arrangement, you can apply to the court for a judge to determine who will have custody of the children. The court will look at one underlying factor – the best interest of the children. The court may award sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, or split custody.

How Do I Get Child Support?

If you and your spouse do not agree on the amount of child support, you can apply to the court for a child support order. The amount the court awards is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines however; the guidelines may not apply for a few reasons. For example, if the child is over 19 years old and not in school on a full-time basis, one parent’s income is over $150,000, the payor is a step-parent or one parent claims special/extraordinary expenses.

How Do We Divide Our Property?

Any property you acquired during the marriage as well as the matrimonial home must be divided equally among the spouses. Any increase in value on assets you had prior to the marriage will also be shared equally but the property will remain yours. If you agree with your spouse on how to divide debt, you do not have to follow the property and debt division rules in the Family Law Act. You can apply to the court within two years of a divorce order to settle family property or debt.

Do I Need A Lawyer?

While it is not a requirement to have a lawyer to get a divorce, it is prudent to hire a lawyer to learn about your legal rights and to help you achieve a separate agreement which can layout the terms of your divorce. Your lawyer at Paine Edmonds LLP will advocate for you throughout the process, including by assisting you through any mediation.

How Do I Qualify For Legal Aid?

You net monthly income and family size will determine whether you are eligible to obtain assistance from the Justice Access Centre. If your income after deductions is lower than the threshold outlined on the linked table, you may be eligible for free legal assistance. If your income is slightly above the limit, you may still be able to receive brief advice from a family lawyer.

For a Divorce Lawyer in Vancouver, Contact Paine Edmonds LLP

If you are thinking about separating or have already separated from your spouse and are seeking information about your legal rights, please do not hesitate to speak to a family lawyer in Vancouver at our law firm. Whether you are looking for a consultation or full representation for your proceedings, our legal team can take care of it. Call us to set up your consultation at 1-800-669-8599 or fill out our online form for an initial family law consultation request.