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Divorce is a legal process in which a married couple dissolves their marriage. In Surrey, BC, specific steps need to be followed to get a divorce. If you are considering getting divorced, it is essential to understand the process and what is involved. Here is an overview of the steps involved in getting a divorce in Surrey, BC.

Filing For Divorce:

The first step in getting a divorce is to file for divorce. This can be done by going to the Supreme Court registry and filing a Notice of Family Claim. The information on a Notice of Family Claim tells the court that you want to get divorced and why. It can also ask the court to make orders about parenting, support, and property division.

The next step is to serve the Notice of Family Claim on your spouse. This means someone over the age of 19 (not you) must give your spouse a copy of the Notice of Family Claim and an affidavit of service. The affidavit of service is a document that proves that your spouse has been personally served with the Notice of Family Claim.

After you have served the Notice of Family Claim, you will need to wait 30 days before you can file for divorce. This is called the cooling-off period.

Serving Divorce Papers:

To obtain your divorce, your spouse must be served with the divorce papers. This can be done by having a trusted mutual friend deliver the documents to your spouse or by hiring a process server. If you have hired an attorney, they will be able to arrange for service of the papers. 

If your spouse is evading service:

Sometimes a spouse will attempt to frustrate the divorce process by evading service. It is also common to confront difficulty serving papers when one spouse has returned to their country of origin, or lives a nomadic lifestyle. The court understands this and, upon application, will generally grant the ability to forgo this step after it is shown that it will be impossible to successfully achieve service of an evading, missing or hiding spouse.

After the documents have been served, your spouse will have a certain amount of time to respond. If they do not respond within that time frame, you may be able to proceed with the divorce without their input. This is an uncontested divorce.

If your spouse does contest the divorce, then you will need to go through the process of negotiating a settlement. This can be done with the advice of a family law lawyer, their skillfully drafted legal correspondence, experienced representation at court, and astute advocacy during mediation – or without. Once a settlement is reached, it will need to be approved by the court before the divorce can be finalized. Woe be them that go through this process naively.

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Filing A Response:

Once your spouse has been served with the divorce papers, they will have 30 days to file a response. You can proceed with the divorce without their consent if they do not file a reply.

If your spouse files for divorce, you may agree or contest the divorce. If, after consulting with a family law lawyer, you decide to challenge the divorce, you will need to attend a hearing in front of a judge to determine whether or not the divorce will be granted. And if you have minor children, you will also need to attend a hearing to discuss child custody, parenting responsibilities, visitation and parenting time. The judge will decide based on what is in the child’s best interests.

Once the judge has decided, you must file the appropriate paperwork with the court. Once this is done, the divorce will be final, and you will be able to move on with your life.

Applying For A Divorce Order:

Once you have filed a response, you can apply for a divorce order. This can be done by using the court registry.

An affidavit must accompany the application from you and your spouse. The affidavit must state that you have been living apart for at least 12 months and that there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciling.

If the judge gives the divorce order, it will become effective one month after the date of the order.

Attending A Divorce Hearing:

Once your application has been processed, you will be required to attend a divorce hearing. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant the divorce. If the judge gives the divorce, you must sign a divorce decree. This decree will be filed with the court, and you will be officially divorced.

If you have any questions about the divorce process or need help getting through your divorce, please contact our office. We are here to help you every step of the way.

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Obtaining A divorce order:

The Supreme Court will grant your divorce if:

  • You (or your spouse) have lived in BC for a year or more
  • You show that your marriage has broken down
  • The court is satisfied that you have made reasonable arrangements for any children, including child support

Even if a couple agrees on the divorce, parenting arrangements, support, and division property, they still need the court to grant a divorce. In these situations, couples can apply jointly for their divorce. Filing jointly eliminates the need to serve the other party and allows the couple to apply for an uncontested  (also called a desk-order) divorce together.

A divorce can still proceed as uncontested in a sole application if the other spouse does not respond when served with the application.

 An uncontested divorce is faster and cheaper than a contested divorce simply because there is no need to devote time and resources to negotiation of a contentious issue. However, don’t assume you will sail through an uncontested divorce with your interests fairly met. Often, one spouse simply capitulates on every point in order to assuage their own guilt, succumb to a bully, or move on with life in the most expedient manner. Down the road, they come to regret not being more thorough, and then the attempt to re-address the issues can be grueling and expensive. Always seek the advice of a family law lawyer – not a general practitioner – before signing a separation agreement. To file for an uncontested divorce, you will need to file a separation agreement with the court.

Finalizing The Divorce:

While you can apply to the court for a divorce at any time after you separate, the court will not grant a divorce until you have been separated for at least one year.

You must also have filed a parenting plan if you have minor children. The parenting plan should address parenting responsibilities (also known as custody), parenting time (also known as visitation), and child support.

 Once the paperwork is filed, you need to attend a hearing where a judge will decide on the divorce. After 31 days, the court automatically grants a final divorce order if no appeal has been filed. It’s important to note that remarriage can only happen after the 31-day period has passed. In Canada, you must have a divorce if you want to remarry.

If you wish to obtain a divorce certificate, you must contact the spureme court registry where your divorce was filed. There is a fee of $40.00 to obtain a certificate of divorce  if you attend the court registry in person, and an extra $10.00 for mailing if you wish it to be sent to you.  

Getting a divorce in Surrey, BC, can be complex and time-consuming. Understanding all the steps involved is essential before beginning the process. If you have any questions about the process, you should consult with a lawyer or other legal professional. Fleetwood Family Law can help you navigate the divorce process and ensure that your rights are protected. Fleetwood Family Law is a Surrey-based law firm that focuses on family law. We represent clients in all aspects of family law, including divorce, child custody, and property division. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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