Joint application for an uncontested divorce

Introduction

Online Divorce Assistant

The Online Divorce Assistant is a free tool that helps you fill out all the forms you need for a joint divorce. Use this tool if:

  • you and your spouse live in BC,
  • you don't have any dependent children together, and
  • your marriage certificate (or registration of marriage) is in English.

Come back to our guide any time to learn more about each step and what each form is for.

Who this guide is for

This guide is for spouses working together on a joint application for a simple, uncontested divorce. This means you agree on all your separation issues and only need to apply for a divorce order.

Use this guide if all the following statements are true:

  • You want to file for divorce in BC.
  • You and the other person agree about getting a divorce, or they won't argue against your application.
  • You already have written agreements or orders for:
    • parenting,
    • child support,
    • spousal support, and
    • how to divide your property and debt.
  • One of you will have lived in BC for at least one year before you start your divorce and will live in BC throughout the divorce.
  • You've been separated for at least one year.
  • You're not applying for divorce on the grounds of cruelty or adultery.

What if this guide isn't for you?

If you haven't been separated for a year, you can complete Steps 1 to 4 of this guide. But you'll have to wait until you've been separated for a year before moving on to Step 5.

If you want to apply for a divorce on the grounds of adultery or cruelty, consider getting help from a lawyer.

Before you complete this guide or apply for divorce, you need to:

There are people who can help you reach an agreement.

If there are issues that you haven't settled, it's possible to ask the judge to make orders about parenting, support, or property when you fill out your Notice of Joint Family Claim in Step 3. You must agree on what you want the judge to order. If you have children, the judge must be satisfied that you've made reasonable arrangements for parenting and child support. If not, you might have to go to court. Talk to a family law lawyer first.

If you have your issues settled in orders from the Supreme Court instead of Provincial Court, the divorce process is more complicated and your situation might not be suited to this guide. Consider getting legal help to figure out your next step.

You can't use this guide to get a divorce if you and the other person don't agree about your separation issues. Work on settling your issues first. There are people who can help you reach an agreement. Once you agree, you can use this guide.

If you can't resolve your issues together, a judge will have to do it for you. Read Contested divorce on our Divorce page for more information.

How long will it take to do your own divorce?

It's possible to do your divorce in three to four months once you've settled all your issues. But there are waiting periods, and it might take longer if your Supreme Court registry is busy.

 

What will it cost to do your own divorce?

There are a few different court fees when applying for divorce:

  • Either $30 or $200 to open a family law case with the Supreme Court:
    • $30 if you file a separation agreement first, or
    • $200 if you file your Notice of Joint Family Claim first.
  • $10 to file the Registration of Divorce Proceedings.
  • $80 to make the final application.

There might be other costs involved, including the cost of:

  • Having your affidavits sworn. It costs around $40 to have this done at the court registry. Other places offer notary services at different prices.
  • Getting a certified copy of your original marriage certificate or registration of marriage. In BC, this costs $27.
  • Having your marriage certificate translated into English and getting an Affidavit of Translation.
  • Ordering a Certificate of Divorce (Form F56), if you want one. This costs $40.
  • Making photocopies of your documents.
If you can't afford to pay court fees, see our step-by-step guide Get an order to waive fees.

Get legal help

Talk to a lawyer

First, meet with a family law lawyer to find out what your rights and responsibilities are. Either of you might be entitled to spousal or child support, or property, assets, or pensions that you don't know about. Or you might have to pay spousal or child support or take responsibility for certain debts. The court won't usually order a divorce unless all these things have been settled.

You only have two years from the date of divorce to claim spousal support or your share of property and debt.

If you don't know a lawyer, try calling the Lawyer Referral Service.

Dividing property and debts

Dividing property and debts can be complicated. So if you have property and debt together, it's even more important to consider getting legal advice. See Dividing property and debts after you separate for more information.

Don't give up any claims that you might have for property or assets to keep your divorce simple. Remember that property and assets can include many things, such as pensions or RRSPs. Get advice from a family law lawyer before you make any decisions.

If you can't afford a lawyer

If you can't afford a lawyer, you can get legal help in other ways, including:

Staff at Justice Access Centres in Nanaimo, Victoria, and Vancouver can also answer your questions and help you fill out forms. Call someone who can help or find a nearby office. If you want the help of a mediator, see Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court.

Wellness

Work through this guide at your own pace. There's no need to rush.

Gather your documents

You'll need

  • Your marriage certificate
  • Money to pay a translator to translate your marriage certificate into English, if required
  • A copy of your separation agreement or court order(s)
  • Your change of name certificate, if required

Your marriage certificate

To get a divorce, you need an original marriage certificate or a certified true copy of your registration of marriage. The court won't accept the certificate you received from the church or other place where you got married.

If you were married:

  • in BC, see Marriage Certificates to find out what BC marriage certificates look like, and how to order one from the BC government's Vital Statistics Agency
  • in another province or territory, contact the office equivalent to Vital Statistics in that province or territory
  • in another country, contact the office responsible for marriage records in the country where you were married

Ask to have your original marriage certificate or a certified copy sent to you. There's usually a fee for this service. In BC, it costs $27 to order your marriage certificate from the Vital Statistics Agency.

If you can't get your marriage certificate before your case begins, explain why on the court forms. The court registry might let you file your certificate later if they believe you have a good reason. If not, they might delay your case.

If your marriage certificate is from Quebec and in French, the registry might require you to get it translated into English. Contact your Supreme Court registry to find out if it accepts marriage certificates in French.

If your marriage certificate is from another country and isn't in English, you need to get it translated into English. This must be done by a certified translator. Ask the translator to give you an Affidavit of Translation. When you file your marriage certificate, you'll attach the translation and the affidavit as exhibits. A certified translator can help you do this.

Your separation agreement or court order

You need your separation agreement or Provincial Court order(s) to show what you've agreed to or what the court has already ordered about parenting, child support, or spousal support.

You'll file your agreement with the Supreme Court to open a family law case.

To make a separation agreement, contact a family justice counsellor, mediator, or family law lawyer for help. You can also use our step-by-step guide Write your own separation agreement.

For more help, see Making an agreement after you separate and Who can help you reach an agreement?

Your change of name certificate, if required

You don't need to apply for a legal name change to use the name you had before you were married. It's the same as when you marry. You can use either your name from before marriage or your spouse's name without legally changing it.

If you did have a legal name change and want to change it back or change your name to something new, you can do that in your divorce application. In this case, you'll also need your change of name certificate from the Vital Statistics Agency.

You can also apply for a change of name later through the Legal Change of Name Application page on the BC government website.
Wellness

Whatever you feel as you work through this guide is normal and okay.

File your agreement, if you have one

You'll need

If you have an agreement and you haven't yet filed it with the court, do that next. Filing your agreement is very straightforward. You'll also save money if you do it before you file anything else.

Talk to a lawyer before you file your agreement, if you haven't already.

How to file your agreement

Make a copy of your signed agreement.

Fill out the Requisition (Form F17.1). The Requisition is a request to file the agreement.

On the first page, fill in your name as the Claimant, and the other person's name as the Respondent. Check the box to confirm that there are no orders made or currently being sought.

Take the Requisition, a copy of your agreement, and the $30 filing fee to the registry.

Fees sometimes change, so confirm the amount before you go. You can do this by calling the registry or checking the Supreme Court Civil Rules. You must pay the fee in cash, or with a certified cheque or money order made out to the Minister of Finance. Many court registries will also take debit cards, but check first.

You can file your documents at any Supreme Court registry. You'll have to go back to the same court each time you need to deal with the court again, so it's best to choose one that's convenient.

At the registry, a clerk will check your documents and take your payment. They'll stamp your documents with the court seal and put them into the file for your case.

You now have an open family law case with a court file number. Put this number on the rest of your forms so the registry knows that you already have an open file. This way you won't have to pay the $200 fee to open a case when you file your Notice of Joint Family Claim.

Wellness

It can help to talk about your feelings with a supportive friend or a group of people in the same situation.

Fill out two forms

You'll need

This step is divided into three parts. The third part is optional and depends on your situation.

Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1)

The Notice of Joint Family Claim gives the court details about:

  • you and the other person,
  • your marriage and separation, and
  • what you're asking the court for.

The form has different sections on different types of orders. Because you've already settled your issues in a separation agreement or court order(s), you only need to fill in section 1, section 2, and section 8.

Click Fill In Form at the top of the first page. The fields for the claimants' names will appear.

If you've already filed your agreement, fill in your court file number where it says No., at the top. From the drop-down menu below it, choose your Supreme Court registry.

Fill in your names, keeping the following tips in mind:

  • You're Claimant 1.
  • Your spouse is Claimant 2.
  • Fill in your names exactly as they appear on your marriage certificate. If either of you has had a legal name change since you were married, write the new name instead. Bring along a copy of the change of name certificate when you file your documents.
  • If you or the other person often uses a name that's different from what's on your marriage certificate, include that as well. This might be your married name, a nickname, or an "unofficial alias." For example, if your legal name is Mary Jane Doe, but everyone calls you Janey Doe, do the following:
    • Click the Add AKA/DBA button next to your Claimant name fields
    • Type "Janey Doe" in the Alternative Name fields provided
    • Choose the type of name from the drop-down menu. For example, Also known as, or Formerly known as

    The name will appear next to your legal name at the top of the form.

Under I am asking for the following, check An order for divorce. Section 2 will then appear in the form.

If you or the other person wants a legal name change, you can also check Another order and fill out section 7. (Remember, you don't need a legal name change to use your spouse's name or the name you had before you were married. See Your change of name certificate in Step 1: Gather your documents.)

Check were married on and add the date you were married.

Check separated on and add the date you separated.

Grounds for divorce

Usually the grounds for divorce are that you've been living "separately and apart" from the other person for at least one year.

You can apply for a divorce earlier than this on the grounds of adultery or physical or mental cruelty. But this makes the process more difficult, and you won't be able to use this guide. You also have to be able to prove it to the court, so most people wait for the one year to pass.

In B Grounds for claim for divorce<, check Divorce is claimed as a result of having lived separate and apart. On the line that appears below it, fill in the date that you and your spouse separated. Then choose the box to confirm whether you have or haven't lived together since you separated.

Abuse and violence are not normal ways of dealing with family issues. If the other person ever makes you feel afraid, you can use MyLawBC to make a safety plan.

If you haven't yet been separated for one year, you can still begin the process. You can start a family law case and complete this guide up to Step 4: Fill out the next forms. Then wait to complete the rest of the process after the one year has passed.

Proof of marriage

Your proof of marriage is your marriage certificate. You need to file this with your Notice of Joint Family Claim.

If you don't have a copy of your marriage certificate or a certified copy of the registration of marriage, go back to Step 1: Gather your documents.

This section tells the court whether you have dependent children together (called "children of the marriage"). Check the box that applies to you.

If you do have dependent children together, fill in the children's names, when they were born, and who they live with.

You don't need sections 4 – 6 if you've settled all your separation issues in an agreement or orders. But if you need the judge to make other orders that you both agree to, you can do that here.

You need to show the judge that you've settled all your separation issues and made reasonable arrangements for parenting and child support. If not, the judge might not sign your divorce order and you might have to appear in court.

Fill out:

  • section 4 for orders that relate to children, parenting time, and child support;
  • section 5 for orders that relate to spousal support; and
  • section 6 for property orders.

You don't need to ask for a legal change of name if you're going back to the name you used before marriage. But if you or the other person legally changed your name, or if you want to change it to something different, you can do that here.

Check the box to indicate whether each claimant or their lawyer will sign the form. Print the form, then both of you (or your lawyers, if you have them) need to sign and date it.

Registration of Divorce Proceedings

Fill out a copy of the Registration of Divorce Proceedings. You can fill it out on your computer and print it, or print a blank copy and fill it out by hand.

This form goes to a central registry in Ottawa. The registry in Ottawa will check their records to make sure you have no other divorce proceedings pending in Canada. The judge can't grant you a divorce order until they send written clearance back to your registry. This can take four to six weeks.

When you're filling out the Registration of Divorce, check joint applicant for both of your names.

Go to Step 4 OR file the first two forms

You'll need to fill out a few more forms for your divorce application. You can either file your first two forms now, or you can wait and file them together with the next set of documents. It depends on your situation.

If you've been separated for a year or longer, you don't have to do the rest of this step. Instead, you can go straight to Step 4: Fill out the next forms. Then, at the registry, you'll have your affidavits sworn and file everything together.

If you haven't yet been separated for a year, file your Notice of Joint Family Claim and Registration of Divorce Proceedings now. The Registration of Divorce Proceedings can take four to six weeks to clear, so doing it now can help speed up the process.

Make copies of the forms

Make two photocopies of the completed and signed Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1).

  • The registry keeps the original
  • One copy is for you
  • The other copy is for the other person

Photocopy your marriage certificate and Registration of Divorce Proceedings if you'd like to keep copies of them. You'll file both at the registry and you won't get to keep the original marriage certificate.

If you or the other person had a legal change of name, make a copy of the change of name certificate.

File your forms at the Supreme Court registry

You'll need:

  • the signed original Notice of Joint Family Claim,
  • the two photocopies,
  • the completed Registration of Divorce Proceedings and your photocopy (if you want one to keep),
  • your marriage certificate and your photocopy (if you want one to keep),
  • your translation into English and Affidavit of Translation (if you had your marriage certificate translated),
  • the copy of your change of name certificate (if you legally changed your name),
  • $10 to file your Registration of Divorce Proceedings, and
  • $200 to file your Notice of Joint Family Claim if you didn't file your separation agreement. If you did, filing your Notice is free.
Fees sometimes change, so confirm the amount before you go. You can do this by calling the registry or checking the Supreme Court Civil Rules. You must pay the fee in cash, or with a certified cheque or money order made out to the Minister of Finance. Many court registries will also take debit cards, but check first.

Go to the same registry where you filed your separation agreement.

If you don't have an agreement or an open family law case, you can file your documents at any Supreme Court registry. You'll have to go back to the same court each time you need to deal with the court again, so it's a good idea to choose one that's convenient.

If you're in a community that isn't close to a Supreme Court registry, contact your local library. They should be able to tell you where to file your documents.

Go to the registry's divorce counter

The staff at the divorce counter will check to make sure your documents are correct and complete. If they are, they'll take your payment and stamp the documents with the date, the court seal, and a file number.

The registry will keep the originals and give the stamped copies back to you.

Your documents are now filed in the Supreme Court.

Wellness

You're making good progress. Take a break if you need to.

Fill out the next forms

You'll need

Fill out your affidavit(s)

You won't need to go to trial and give evidence to a judge. Instead, your evidence will be written in affidavits. An affidavit is a form that you fill out and swear or affirm that the information in it is true.

You need to fill out:

  • an Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce (Form F38). This sets out all the facts of your marriage and separation, and gives information about parenting time if you have children.
  • a Child Support Affidavit (Form F37). This gives information about your children and child support, if you and the other person have children. Attach your separation agreement or court orders to this form as exhibits. Write a letter on each exhibit (for example, Exhibit A and Exhibit B).

Some of the information in these affidavits will be the same as what's in your Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1). The Notice of Joint Family Claim isn't a sworn document, and the judge or master must have sworn evidence to make a decision.

You can prepare the Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce together, or you can print two copies and swear one each. You'll learn more about this in the next step.

When you're adding your names on the first page of either form, choose Claimant 1 and Claimant 2 from the drop-downs. If you were Claimant 1 on your Notice of Joint Family Claim, you'll be Claimant 1 here as well.

Your arrangements for parenting will be set out in your most recent agreement. If your arrangements have changed, explain the differences in detail. If your current arrangements are different from an order made by the court, you’ll have to update that order before you can continue. See our step-by-step guide Change a family order in Supreme Court if you both agree to find out more about this.

Fill out three more forms

Next, you need to fill out three more forms:

  • A Requisition (Form 35). This tells the court that you want a divorce (and a name change, if you need one). It also tells the court what documents you're providing to support your application.
  • A Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36). The registry staff will sign this. It shows the judge that your documents have been checked and are complete and correct.
  • A draft Final Order (Form F52). This sets out the court orders. You'll fill in all the details, and the judge will sign it. This will be your divorce order once the judge has signed it.
On all three forms, next to the name fields, the forms show Claimant and Respondent by default. Choose Claimant 1 and Claimant 2 from the drop-down boxes. If you were Claimant 1 on your other forms, you'll be Claimant 1 here as well.

Both of you must sign the Requisition and the Final Order. Only the person who reviews your documents at the registry will sign the certificate.

Wellness

You might feel anxious about using the court forms, but it's just a matter of filling in certain facts. Take them one question at a time.

Swear or affirm the affidavit(s)

If you haven't yet been separated for one year, you'll need to stop here and come back to the guide after one year has passed since you separated.

There are strict rules for when you can swear or affirm your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce (Form 38). You can only do it after:

  • you and the other person have been separated for one year, and
  • you've filed your Notice of Joint Family Claim at the court registry. (You can file the Notice and swear your affidavit at the registry at the same time.)

Once you've sworn your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce, you must file the rest of your documents within 30 days. You'll file these in the next step.

If you've already filed your Notice of Joint Family Claim, you can swear your affidavit(s) either:

  • at the registry, or
  • by taking them to a lawyer or notary.

See If you're not swearing an affidavit at the registry, below.

You can both swear one copy, or you can each swear separate copies of the same affidavit(s).

If you're planning to file all your documents at once, print two copies of your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce. Get the other person to swear their own Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce. They can do this at the registry or by taking it to a lawyer or notary.

You'll take their sworn affidavit and your unsworn copy to the registry in the next step.

This way only one of you will have to go to the registry. To swear the same copy, you'd both have to go to the registry to file the Notice and swear the affidavit together.

Go straight to Step 6: Apply for a divorce if you already have the other person's sworn Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce.

You can take your affidavit(s) to a private lawyer or notary public to be sworn. But if you do that, you'll have to file your documents in two steps. If you'd prefer to do it this way, go back to If you haven't been separated for a year in Step 3 for instructions on filing your first two forms.

If you're not swearing an affidavit at the registry

One of your copies of your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce has to be sworn after you've filed your Notice of Joint Family Claim. Whichever one of you is not going to file your forms at the registry can follow these instructions to have their copy of the affidavit sworn in advance.

You can have the affidavit(s) sworn by a:

  • lawyer,
  • notary public, or
  • commissioner for taking affidavits.

Commissioners are found in courthouse registries, at both Supreme Court and Provincial Court. See Who can swear an affidavit? to find out more about this.

If you're going to a lawyer or a notary public, make sure they can swear or affirm the document for you. Make an appointment if you need to. Tell them that the documents are an Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce and, if applicable, a Child Support Affidavit and exhibits for your divorce. Tell the person that you don't need any advice.

Take photo identification (for example, your driver's licence) with you. The person swearing the documents will check your identification. Then they'll ask if you've read the documents, and if you swear (or affirm) that the contents are true to the best of your knowledge and belief. If you answer yes, you sign the documents, and the person witnesses your signature.

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Getting enough sleep can help you work through stressful times.

Apply for a divorce

You'll need

  • Your completed forms and supporting documents
  • $10 to file your Registration of Divorce Proceedings, if it's not already filed
  • $80 to file your application for divorce
  • Money to have your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce sworn, if you need to (it costs around $40 to have this done at the registry)

Prepare your application

Now that you've completed all the documents, you need to apply for divorce.

Make one copy of your completed forms and put each set in the following order:

  1. Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1), if it's not already filed
  2. Registration of Divorce Proceedings, if it's not already filed, with:
    • your original marriage certificate, and
    • your English translation and Affidavit of Translation, if you needed them
  3. Requisition (Form F35)
  4. Draft Final Order (Form F52)
  5. Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36)
  6. Child Support Affidavit (Form F37), if it applies, with your separation agreement or orders attached as exhibits
  7. Both your and the other person's Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce (Form F38)

File your application at the registry

Take the original set and the copy of your documents to the registry. The registry staff will review your documents.

They'll file your Notice of Joint Family Claim and Registration of Divorce Proceedings first, if you haven't filed them already. Filing the Registration of Divorce Proceedings costs $10. If you filed your separation agreement already, filing the Notice won't cost anything. If you didn't, filing it costs $200.

They'll take your oath to swear or affirm your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce (there's a fee for this).

If the rest of your documents are ready to file, they'll take your payment for your application of divorce. As of January 2019, it costs $80. They'll stamp the original and the copy, and give the copy back to you.

Ask the registry staff to estimate when your divorce order will be ready.

Pick up your signed divorce order

The registry won't notify you when the order has been signed. You have to check in with them to see if it's ready.

Once you've picked it up, keep a copy of it in a safe place. Give the other person a copy.

If the judge doesn't have enough information after reviewing your application to be satisfied that there are proper arrangements for the children in place, you might have to appear in court.

The registry will let you know if this is required.

When will you be divorced?

The divorce will become effective 31 days after the judge signed the order. For example, if the judge signed your divorce order on September 15, your divorce will be final on October 16.

You can't remarry until this 31-day period is over.

The 31 days between when the order is signed and when the divorce becomes final is an appeal period. In theory, the other person can file last-minute appeals during this time to stop the divorce. But this is rare.

Wellness

It's normal to feel tense or emotional at this point. Take a break if you need to.

Final steps

Certificate of Divorce

You can order a Certificate of Divorce (Form F56) from the registry any time after the divorce is final.

This step is optional. Your divorce will still be legal if you don't have a Certificate of Divorce. If you want to remarry, your divorce order is enough.

Some countries require a certificate as legal proof of divorce. In Canada, you can use either the certificate or your divorce order. A certificate shows proof of your divorce without revealing all the details in your order.

Some registries might have a different process. It's a good idea to call ahead and check.

Fill out a Requisition (Form F17):

This form includes instructions to fill it out.

Take the following to the registry where you filed for divorce:

  • your completed Requisition,
  • your court file number,
  • $40 payment for each certificate,
  • a photocopy of your divorce order, and
  • government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's licence or passport.

As of January 2019, the fee is $40 for each Certificate of Divorce. If you and the other person both want one, you'll have to pay $80. You can pay with cash, or a money order or certified cheque (with two pieces of ID) payable to the Minister of Finance. Some registries also accept debit, but check first.

For more information, such as how to apply for a certificate by mail, see How Do I Get My Certificate of Divorce? on the JP Boyd on Family Law Wikibook.

Final checklist

  • Filed your agreement, if you needed to
  • Completed and filed your Notice of Joint Family Claim and Registration of Divorce Proceedings
  • Completed your affidavits and other forms required for your application
  • Swore your affidavit(s) as evidence
  • Prepared and filed your application for divorce

Copy and keep safe

  • Your signed divorce order
  • Your separation agreement or court orders
  • Your Certificate of Divorce, if you order one

You've now gone through all the steps required to get an uncontested divorce in Supreme Court. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.

Wellness

People react differently to things. Whatever you feel now is okay.