Alberta and British Columbia both permit an application for a divorce judgment without the requirement of a court appearance. In Alberta, these applications are referred to as “Desk Divorce Applications” and in British Columbia they are referred to as “Desk Order Divorce Applications”.
Both applications require the preparation of several court documents, consent of both parties, service of the documents, and the payment of filing fees. Also required is a certified marriage certificate from the Province in which the marriage was registered.
A summary of the steps required for a Desk (Order) Divorce Application includes:
- Preparation of the documents, and review by the client (1 week),
- Filing the initial document with the Court to obtain an action number and to open a Court file (1 day),
- Service of the documents and obtaining the other parties’ consent (depends, but usually less than 1 week),
- Obtaining a clearance certificate from Ottawa, to confirm that only one divorce action has been started in Canada by the parties (up to 8 weeks),
- Filing of the completed Desk (Order) Divorce Application with the Clerk of the Court (1 week),
- Review of the documents by the Clerk or Divorce Registrar (several days),
- Review of the documents by a Justice (several days or weeks),
- Issuance of the Final Order / Divorce Judgment (1 day), and
- Issuance of a Certificate of Divorce. The Certificate of Divorce is required to apply for a marriage license (30 days after the date of the Final Order or Divorce Judgment).
These steps take time to complete. I am often asked how long it will take to complete the divorce application, sometimes in order to schedule a wedding. The times set out in brackets at each step are estimates. In general, I am finding that the divorce applications are being processed, on average, approximately 7 to 14 weeks after they are filed at Court. That means that it can take up to three months to have your Final Order / Divorce Judgment granted, with the Certificate of Divorce issued 30 days after that date.
There are many factors that may cause a delay to your divorce application. For example, there are times where the Court and the clerks are swamped with work; the busier they are, the more time it takes for them to review the divorce applications.
The review of the documents by the Clerk, Registrar or Justice may result with a request for more or additional information. This information must be provided prior to the application being completed.
There are very few ways of speeding up the process, other than ensuring the paperwork is completed and submitted to the Court on a timely fashion. Therefore, if you are planning to remarry, ensure you give yourself enough time to get through the divorce application process.