How can you prove you're separated if you and your spouse still live together?

You and your spouse might have decided to end your relationship, but for financial or other reasons, you can't live separately. You might have to prove to a court that you and your spouse have actually separated so that you can get a divorce and/or divide up the assets you have as a couple.

In the past, BC courts have recognized the separate status of other couples in your situation. In a case called Oswell v. Oswell, the court used a list of factors to see whether the Oswells were actually separated. You can use the same list.

The court will look at whether you:

  • file your taxes together
  • sleep in the same bed
  • continue to have sex
  • take vacations together
  • visit each other's relatives
  • follow the same rituals as before (such as celebrating holidays, attending religious services, etc.)
  • prepare meals together
  • eat meals together
  • divide household tasks in the same way
  • attend social events together
  • support each other in times of crisis
  • attend counselling to try to improve your relationship

If you've stopped doing all or most of these things, the court will be much more likely to decide that you're separated. To put it another way, the court will look at how you present yourselves to the world: as a married couple or as two single people.

For more information, see Who can help? or read Living Together or Living Apart: Common-Law Relationships, Marriage, Separation, and Divorce.

forward arrowBack to: Previous