Divorce Lawyers in Victoria, BC

Victoria Divorce Lawyers helping your family with separation in BCDivorces are naturally stressful, regardless of who initiates proceedings and whether or not there are children from the marriage.

The stakes are high. Family relationships, children’s futures, and your financial security may all be at risk.

During tough times, it helps to know that your interests are being looked after and you are making decisions in full possession of the facts and all your options.

The experienced divorce lawyers at Jennings Family Law can help you navigate this challenging period if you are based in Victoria and either contemplating or going through a separation or divorce.

We’ll work closely with you to enable a separation agreement that looks after your best interests and, if necessary, enter the courtroom on your behalf to fight for those interests.

Are you eligible for a divorce in BC?

According to the Divorce Act, there are certain criteria that everyone must meet to qualify for a divorce in British Columbia:

  • You or your spouse must be a primary resident of BC for at least one year
  • You must have legal grounds for a divorce, i.e.,

    • Separation for at least 12 months
    • Adultery, or,
    • Physical or mental cruelty

What are the types of divorce in Victoria BC?

You may have heard the terms “contested” and “uncontested” divorce but what do these mean?

Contested divorces in BC

In contested divorces, some or all of the main terms of divorce like child custody, child support, spousal support, and/or property division/debts cannot be agreed upon by separated spouses.

Disputes may develop in any of these areas. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaboration between lawyers, mediation or arbitration may be recommended to attempt to resolve disagreements.

Litigation is the likely outcome if none of these methods work but this applies only in a minority of cases in Victoria.

Uncontested divorces in BC

Uncontested divorces are also known as “desk order” divorces in BC.

If you have the fortune to reach an agreement on all of the main aspects of the divorce with your ex, you may not even have to step foot inside a courtroom.

This is an uncontested divorce because the key matters such as child custody, child support, spousal support and property/debt division are all agreed upon without the need for intervention by a judge.

Usually, the key agreements are all outlined in a separation agreement that a judge will need to approve before signing the divorce order.

Uncontested divorces are generally the quickest, least expensive, and least stressful type of divorce.

How can you file for divorce in BC?

You can file for divorce in Victoria providing you meet the criteria stated above and have a copy of your marriage certificate.

If you do not have a copy of your marriage certificate, go to the Vital Statistics Agency and apply.

Divorce can be arranged directly by applying through your local courthouse or through a lawyer.

First, gather the relevant forms from the courthouse:

  • Notice of Family Claim, and
  • Registration of Divorce Proceedings

Complete the forms and file them with the courthouse. Bear in mind that if you fill out paperwork incorrectly, it can lead to long delays. Many people find it easier with the support and assistance of a divorce lawyer.

Once the divorce papers have been served, you must wait for 30 days. In the absence of a response from your ex, your divorce application will proceed. In uncontested divorces, there is no need for a response from your ex and many couples have already prepared a separation agreement. The next step is to prepare and swear an affidavit for divorce. Attach your separation agreement to the affidavit, if you have one.

If you have dependent children, prepare and swear the affidavit for child support. This sets out the child support arrangements and your separation agreement should again be attached if you have prepared one. The court will need to approve the arrangements.

There will be other forms to complete, which your lawyer can guide you on. You must then wait for the court to enter a final divorce judgment.

Even with correctly filed paperwork, the process from start to finish may take three months or more in BC.

What are the main reasons for disputing a divorce?

Divorces in Victoria are most commonly disputed due to the following outstanding issues:

  • Property and debt division
  • Parenting, guardianship, or custody issues
  • Support issues (child or spousal support)

Sometimes, one spouse wants a divorce, citing that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the differences irreconcilable, while the other spouse wants to work on it.

However, legally speaking, if one spouse believes the marriage to be irretrievably broken, a divorce can be granted after a 12-month separation period even if one spouse contests the grounds for divorce.

You must reach an agreement one way or another on all of the main issues relating to support, parenting, property division, etc. or the court may not grant a divorce.

If decision-making involves litigation, it can become time-consuming and expensive but you will not be granted a divorce unless these issues are resolved.

Try to work on a separation agreement with your ex and your lawyer(s) as soon as possible after deciding on divorce.

How to resolve outstanding divorce issues in Victoria

The main alternatives to litigation are the following alternative dispute methods:

  • Collaboration with your ex: talk things through together amicably around the kitchen table
  • Lawyer collaboration: your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer negotiate terms either with or without you being present
  • Mediation: an independent mediator is hired to facilitate an agreement (you and your ex retain the final decision-making power)
  • Arbitration –an arbitrator is hired to listen to the arguments from both sides and make a final legally-binding judgement on the matters at hand (the arbitrator has final decision-making power)

Any one of these methods can help you and your partner resolve issues. If unsuccessful, you will likely end up in court in Victoria letting a judge make the key decisions.

Get help with a divorce in Victoria, BC

At Jennings Family Law, our divorce lawyers are committed to helping you achieve a prompt and favourable agreement with your spouse and helping you move on with your life.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation and case evaluation.

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