No matter what the circumstances, no matter whether you want to end a marriage or wish you didn’t have to, divorce is tough. It can put you on an emotional roller-coaster and leave your head spinning.
It’s hard to take your feelings out of the situation. That’s why when you are going through a divorce, you need a steady hand to help guide you through the process.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made things worse. In British Columbia, the strain that the pandemic has put on marriages may be at the root of a 30% increase in divorces.
It is just one more reason why effective advocacy is critical in helping calm the situation and sorting out issues such as division of property, spousal and child support, and parenting time that can cause unnecessary expenses, delays, and turmoil.
Why do you need to hire a divorce lawyer in Vancouver?
Technically, you don’t need a lawyer to obtain a divorce in British Columbia. But because divorce has a profound impact on your children, your finances and your future, it is in your best interest to work with a Vancouver divorce lawyer whose compassion is matched by their dedication to helping you achieve your goals. Even the BC courts say that “…Working with a lawyer can be helpful.
A family lawyer can tell you what you need to be aware of when you separate or get a divorce. They can give you advice about your legal rights and responsibilities. A family lawyer can also help if you need to make an agreement to settle things with your spouse or go to court.”
Yes, divorce can be expensive. But not working with a skilled family (divorce) lawyer can be far more costly in the end if it leads to unintended consequences. A divorce lawyer knows the law, knows what to write, what to say, and how to craft a persuasive argument on your behalf.
By educating, informing and advocating, your lawyer gets you past the legal hurdles and protects your rights when your marriage has gone wrong.
What is the divorce process in BC?
In British Columbia and throughout Canada, the only legal way to end a marriage is to get a divorce. As such, divorces are granted by the courts.
Depending on each couple’s circumstances, an appearance before a judge may not be necessary, particularly if you and your spouse have reached a separation agreement (or in cases where a separation agreement isn’t required).
If so, a divorce can be granted on an application by agreement.
A divorcing couple almost always wants to know how long the process will take. If you and your spouse have reached a mutually acceptable agreement, divorces can be granted within three to six months.
If a divorce is contested or particularly contentious and has to go to trial, it can take many more months—or even years¬—to fully resolve all issues and finalize a divorce.
Another common question is “how much is this going to cost?” If you and your soon-to-be-ex can reach a reasonable and mutual agreement on all terms, the process is not only faster, but far less expensive.
When there is no resolution around issues such as child custody or spousal support, expect the divorce to be costly. In high net-worth divorces or those in which parenting issues are flash points, there may be additional expenses for psychologists and accountants.
Not only can legal fees and court costs pile up into the tens of thousands of dollars; your divorce also becomes a matter of public record.
In the best of all worlds, you and your spouse can reach an equitable agreement that you both can live with. Alternatives to court trials that can help you find common ground include arbitration and mediation.
Private mediation is far less expensive than court if it’s a suitable choice. Moreover, it can help you keep your dignity intact.
Must Read → Grounds for Divorce in BC
What are the grounds for divorce in BC?
“Grounds” are the legal reasons for seeking a divorce. In many cases, the marriage has broken down to the point where couples find they can no longer live together as a family.
The root problems can range from arguments over finances to disagreements on child-rearing—and the turmoil of modern life has made it so that the divorce rate in British Columbia hovers at just under 40%.
BC grounds for divorce include:
If you and your spouse live apart for at least one year, you can file for a no-fault divorce. In today’s economic climate, it may mean that a divorcing couple who cannot afford different residences must live under the same roof.
If you are sharing a house, there are specific criteria that must be satisfied in order to have a legal separation:
- There must be proof of physical separation; for instance, separate bedrooms or a partition
- You do not file taxes as a married couple and your finances are not integrated
- Sexual relations between you and your spouse complicate the issue. While it doesn’t rule out that you are living separately, it will likely create problems
- Don’t present yourself to the outside world as a couple. Spending a lot of time together—such as taking vacations or attending social events—may send the wrong message
- It may be in your best interest to have separate household chores, rather than sharing them
Did your spouse betray you by having a sexual relationship with someone outside of your marriage? Did you refuse to forgive them for their infidelity? If so, it constitutes adultery and is a legal grounds for divorce.
PHYSICAL OR MENTAL CRUELTY
If your spouse has been physically or mentally abusive and/or has been violent, it may be a grounds for divorce provided you have not forgiven them for their actions or been complicit in an action to accelerate finalization of a divorce.
Read More → How do I get a Divorce?: A guide to the whole process
Read More → How Much Does it Cost to get a Divorce?
What about children in a BC divorce?
As a parent, you want to make the best decisions for your children. Divorce can sometimes cloud judgment, especially in matters of child support and parenting arrangements.
The courts will look for proof that you and your spouse have made a legal child support agreement to ensure the financial well-being and stability for your children, typically until they are 19 years of age or until they are no longer dependent.
What “types” of divorce are there in British Columbia?
In most cases, a divorce is either uncontested or contested. In short, an uncontested divorce is one in which a couple is in agreement about parenting, support, and division of property issues.
In a contested divorce, some are all of those issues are unresolved.
An uncontested divorce (also called a desk-order divorce or an undefended divorce) is the choice of approximately 80% of couples. It is generally less expensive and leads to a faster order for divorce from the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Both couples must agree that they want a divorce.
Separation from your spouse in Vancouver, BC
It is extremely stressful to separate from your spouse. Apart from the emotional impact are the many practical impacts, such as finding a new place to live, beginning to divide your shared assets, and agreeing on arrangements for financial and child support.
Some key issues to address with the help of a knowledgeable separation attorney include:
MATRIMONIAL PROPERTY DIVISION
This is a key aspect of the divorce process but begins during separation, although it is not yet legally enforceable until the divorce is finalized. Determining how your property should be divided can be a challenging endeavor and might include savings, cars, jewelry, art and other collectibles, etc.
Property brought into the marriage may be exempt from division but it can be complex to prove exemptions.
Also known as alimony, spousal support is the money that one party pays to the other. The amount you should pay or receive is a complex area of the separation and divorce process and based to a large extent on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (or SSAGs).
Although they are not legislated, these guidelines serve as a tool for a knowledgeable attorney to calculate appropriate amounts.
PARENTING & ACCESS
The calculation of child support is based on the FEDERAL CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES. Generally speaking, the parent with the larger income pays more in child support than the parent with the lesser income, although the amount that’s payable for a given income depends on issues such as the province and number of children.
Contact our Vancouver Divorce Lawyers Today
Due to the emotionally charged nature of divorce cases, it is important to have an objective advocate to assist you. The lawyers at Spectrum Family Law can provide you with practical divorce solutions so that you can get through this difficult time in a cost-effective manner.
Although it is always preferable to negotiate a resolution of the issues arising out of a separation, our lawyers are prepared to go to court when necessary to ensure your rights are respected.
We also have a dedicated intake form to help you get the ball rolling. Our intake team will review your specific case and advise you on the next steps to take as well as what to expect moving forward.
Our Vancouver office is open 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., Mon—Fri.
Kasia was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia. She went on to obtain her Juris Doctorate with Honours from Bond University in Australia.