My Spouse and I are Separating, When Can We Get a Divorce?

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When Can I Apply for a Divorce?

Many people believe that a divorce can happen overnight. However, getting a divorce can be complicated and does take some time. In Canada, a couple can only get a divorce if there has been a breakdown of the marriage. There are three ways to show that a marriage has broken down: you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for at least one year before you apply for a divorce; adultery; or physical or mental cruelty.

The most common type of divorce is one that results from living separate and apart for one year. It can sometimes be difficult, more time consuming and expensive to prove that your spouse committed adultery or was physically or mentally cruel. If the court finds that you forgave your spouse’s behaviour, you will also be unable to receive a divorce based on adultery or cruelty.


Sometimes when a couple decides to separate, they may not be able to move into separate houses right away. In some cases, separation can occur while you are still living with your spouse. However, you must not be living as a married couple and you must have the intention to separate. There are a number of factors that may determine whether you are living as a married couple including whether you are sleeping in the same bed, eating meals together, sharing finances, or engaging in activities as a family.

What Else Do I Need to Do to Get a Divorce?

Before you can get a divorce, you must show that you have made reasonable arrangements for the support of your children. “Reasonable arrangements” includes reaching an arrangement for the payment of child support. At the time you apply for a divorce, you may also wish to address how you and your spouse will divide parenting responsibilities, whether spousal support is claimed, and how you and your spouse will divide your property.


If you need legal advice on this subject or any other law related inquiry please contact us.