Sole application for an uncontested divorce

Introduction

Who this guide is for

This guide is for a person completing a sole application for a simple, uncontested divorce. This means you agree on all your separation issues and only need to apply for a divorce order. Only you will file for divorce. The other person isn't involved in the process.

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 3 of this guide. You can begin Step 4, but you'll have to wait until you've been separated for a year before you complete it.

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. Or you can use our step-by-step guides to get court orders.

You can't use this guide to get a divorce if you and the other person don't agree about your separation issues. If you disagree, it means your divorce is contested. The contested divorce process is more complicated.

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?

You have to pay two separate court fees to get a divorce:

  • $210 when you file the first documents (a $200 filing fee, plus $10 for a Registration of Divorce Proceedings), and
  • $80 when you make the final application.

There might be other potential 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.
  • Hiring a process server to serve your documents on the other person, if you choose to hire a professional.
  • 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

Before you begin your own divorce, if you haven't already, meet with a family law lawyer to find out what your rights and responsibilities are. You might have a right to property, to spousal or child support and maintenance, or to a division of 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.

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

Dividing your property and debts

If you think that dividing your property and debts is going to be complicated, it's even more important to consider getting legal advice.

You only have two years from the date of your divorce to make any claims involving spousal support or your share of property and debt. See Dividing property and debts after you separate for more information about this.

Don't give up any claims that you might have for property or assets just 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 might be able to 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.

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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)
  • A recent photo of the other person, if required
  • Your change of name certificate, if required

Your marriage certificate

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

If you got 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 if it accepts marriage certificates in French.

If your marriage certificate is from another country and is not 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 should have a separation agreement or Provincial Court order that sets out what you've agreed to or what the court has already ordered about parenting, child support, or spousal support.

If you have dependent children, you'll have to attach the agreement or order to one of the affidavits that you'll be filing. (You'll complete these affidavits in Step 4: Fill out the next forms.)

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?

A photo of the other person, if required

The person who serves documents on the other person (either a professional process server or another adult) must have a way to identify them. The process server can either:

  • use a photo that you've provided (and sworn in an affidavit is a true likeness of the person), or
  • copy or take a photo of the other person's licence or other photo identification (ID).

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

Fill out two forms

You'll need

Notice of Family Claim (Form F3)

The Notice of 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 a main front section to fill out, plus five optional parts after that, called schedules. Each schedule covers a different issue. Because you've already settled your issues in a separation agreement or court order(s), you only need to fill out the schedule on divorce.

Expand the headings below for more detailed instructions on each section.

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

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

  • You're the claimant.
  • The other person is the respondent.
  • 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 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
    • 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.

Fill out the rest of the pages.

Under 4. The Claimant's Claims, check the box for An order for divorce. Schedule 1 will then appear at the bottom of the form.

If you want a legal change of name, you can also check the box for Another order. This will make Schedule 5 appear. (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, if required, in Step 1: Gather your documents.)

You don't need to check any of the other boxes.

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.

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

You'll need to file proof of your marriage (your marriage certificate) with your Notice of Family Claim.

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

You don't need to ask for a legal change of name if you're just going back to the name you used before marriage. But if you legally changed your name, or if you want to change it to something else, fill out Schedule 5 for a change of name order.

You can also apply separately through the Legal Changes of Name page on the BC government website.

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 filling out the Registration of Divorce, check applicant for your name and respondent for the other person's name.
Wellness

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

File and serve

This step is divided into three parts.

You'll need

  • Your completed Notice of Family Claim
  • Your completed Registration of Divorce Proceedings
  • Your marriage certificate, and:
    • Your translation into English and Affidavit of Translation, if required
    • Your change of name certificate, if required
  • $210 in filing fees
  • To make photocopies of your documents

Make copies of the forms

Make three copies of the completed Notice of Family Claim (Form F3).

Sort and staple the pages to make four stapled sets (the original and three copies):

  • The registry keeps the original.
  • One copy is for you.
  • The other copy is to serve on the other person.
  • The person who serves the documents (a process server or another adult) will attach a copy to their Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15).

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 won't get to keep the original marriage certificate.

If you had a legal change of name, make a copy of your change of name certificate.

File the forms at the registry

You'll need:

  • the signed original Notice of Family Claim,
  • the three photocopies,
  • the completed Registration of Divorce Proceedings and your photocopy (if you want one to keep),
  • your original 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), and
  • $210 in filing fees ($200 for your Notice of Family Claim and $10 for your Registration of Divorce Proceedings).
Fees sometimes change, so call the registry or check the Supreme Court Civil Rules to confirm the amount. The filing fees must be paid 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 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 for information about where to file your documents.

Go to the registry's divorce counter. The staff 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 original Notice of Family Claim, Registration of Divorce, and marriage certificate. They'll give the stamped copies of the Notice back to you.

Your documents are now filed and you have a divorce file open in the Supreme Court.

You'll need

  • An adult to serve your documents on the other person (a process server, friend, or relative)
  • A blank Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15):
  • The other person's home or work address
  • The other person's telephone number and email address, if possible
  • A photograph of the other person, if required

You must have someone give the filed Notice of Family Claim to the other person. This is called "serving" the documents.

The Notice of Family Claim must be served by personal service. This means that someone has to physically hand the form to the person who needs to receive it. You can't do this yourself — someone else (who's at least 19) must serve it for you. This can be a friend or relative, or you can hire a professional process server.

Process servers charge different amounts. Before you hire a process server, get quotes from several companies and check that they'll provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service.

Instructions for personal service

Give the person serving the documents:

  • two copies of the Notice of Family Claim — one for the other person and one attached to an Affidavit of Service (Form F15);
  • the other person's address at home and at work;
  • the other person's telephone number and email address (so the process server can contact them to arrange a time for service); and
  • a photograph of the other person. You don't need a photo if the person being served gives the process server a copy or photo of their driver’s licence or other photo identification (ID).

If the process server has to use a photograph to identify the other person, you need to swear or affirm that the photograph is a "true likeness of the respondent."

The easiest way to do this is to add a short statement to your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce when you come to it — you'll deal with this form in Step 4: Fill out the next forms. You can also fill out a separate Affidavit and have it sworn by a commissioner for taking affidavits, but that takes more time and comes with an additional fee.

The process server must then:

  • compare the copies to the originals to make sure they're the same;
  • give one copy to the other person, and save the other copy that's attached to the Affidavit;
  • make a note of the date and time where the documents were served (they'll include this information in the Affidavit of Personal Service that they'll give you); and
  • copy or take a photo of the photo ID that the person being served provided.

Affidavit of Personal Service

If you hired a process server, they'll now provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service.

If a friend or relative is your process server, they must:

  1. Fill out the Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15).
  2. Attach the copies of the served documents and the photograph or description (if used) to the affidavit.
  3. Mark each copy as an exhibit and label them Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, etc. The court won't accept your affidavit If the documents aren't attached and properly marked, and you'll have to have the documents served again.
  4. Take the affidavit (with the attachments) to a lawyer, notary public, or clerk at the court registry to swear or affirm that the documents have been served. (There's a fee for this.) The lawyer, notary, or clerk will sign the affidavit, and stamp and sign each attachment.
  5. Return the completed affidavit and the attachments to you.

You can attach your sworn Affidavit of Personal Service to your final application for divorce. It will be your evidence that the documents were served on the other person.

You can apply to the court to allow you to try and let the other person know about the divorce by substitutional service. For example, you can request that the court consider the documents as having already been served if you:

  • send them to the other person by email, text, or direct message through a private social media platform, like Facebook Messenger;
  • give the Notice of Family Claim to someone the other person knows well; or
  • post a classified ad in a local newspaper.

You'll need

  • To wait 30 days

The respondent has 30 days to file and serve on you a Response to Family Claim (Form F4). They also have the right to file and serve a Counterclaim (Form F5) to start their own claim for child support, spousal support, or parenting orders.

If the other person doesn't respond to your Notice of Family Claim within 30 days, you can continue with your sole application for an uncontested divorce.

If you receive a response, this is not an uncontested family law case and you can't finish this guide. See Contested divorce to find out more about what you can do.

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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 Family Claim (Form F3). The Notice of Family Claim isn't a sworn document, and the judge or master must have sworn evidence to make a decision.

Fill out three more forms

Next, you need to fill out three more forms that will help the court to process your divorce application.

Requisition (Form F35)

Your Requisition tells the court that you want a divorce and, if you need one, a name change. The Requisition also tells the court what documents you're providing to support your application.

You need to provide proof in your Requisition that your case is uncontested.

In the form, under Required, on the first page, type or write this statement:

"A search for a Response to Family Claim or Counterclaim filed in this matter."

This statement asks the registry to search their records to see if the other person ever filed a response or counterclaim to your Notice of Family Claim. This is your proof that your case is uncontested.

Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36)

The registry staff will sign the Certificate of Pleadings. It shows the judge that your documents have been checked and are complete and correct.

Draft Final Order (Form F52)

Your draft Final Order 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.

Swear or affirm the affidavit(s)

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

  • you and the other person have been separated for one year,
  • your Notice of Family Claim has been filed at the court registry, and
  • the time period for the other person to submit a Response to Family Claim (Form F4) or a Response to Counterclaim (Form F6) has passed.

How to swear or affirm an affidavit

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?

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 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.

Once the affidavit(s) have been sworn, you have 30 days to file them with your other three forms as part of your application for divorce.

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.

If the person who served the Notice of Family Claim had to use a photograph, you can now add a statement to your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce where you affirm that the photograph is a true likeness of the person.

At the end of the form, under 8. Additional Details, write the following statement:

I have reviewed the Affidavit of Personal Service sworn by [Name of the person who served your Notice] on [Date the Affidavit was sworn] and the photograph attached as Exhibit [X] to the Affidavit of Personal Service is a true likeness of the respondent.

Fill in the name of the person who served your Notice and the date the Affidavit of Personal Service was sworn. Then replace the Exhibit [X] with the letter used on the photograph in the Affidavit of Personal Service (for example, Exhibit B).

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.

Apply for a divorce

You'll need

  • Your completed forms
  • $80 in filing fees

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 them in the in the following order:

  1. Requisition (Form F35)
  2. Draft Final Order (Form F52)
  3. Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36)
  4. Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15)
  5. Child Support Affidavit (Form F37), if it applies, with your separation agreement or Provincial Court orders attached as exhibits
  6. Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce (Form F38)
  7. Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15)

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.

If 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 roughly when your divorce order will be ready.

Pick up your signed divorce order

The registry won’t let you know when the order has been signed. You’ll 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.

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.

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

Serve your divorce order

You'll need

  • A copy of your signed divorce order
  • The other person's address for service, if you have one
  • Fax Cover Sheet (Form F95), if you fax the document

As soon as possible, you must serve a copy of the divorce order on the other person, unless the court explicitly says that you don't have to. You must serve it by ordinary service.

What is ordinary service?

Ordinary service means the document can be:

  • dropped off at a business or residential address,
  • sent by regular mail,
  • faxed with a Fax Cover Sheet (Form F95), or
  • emailed.

The method you use will depend on the type of information the other person included in their address for service on their own court documents. You can only serve a document to an address they've listed. Since the other party didn't file a response, you might not have an address for service. If you don't, you must mail it to their last known address.

When is a document considered served by ordinary service?

A document that's emailed, faxed, or left at a person's address for service is considered served on that day if it's served at or before 4 pm on a business day (Monday to Friday). If it's left after 4 pm or on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, it's considered served on the next business day.

A mailed document is considered served one week later on the same day of the week as the day it was sent or, if that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the next day that's a business day.

You don't need to complete an Affidavit of Ordinary Service.

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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

In this guide, you:

  • Filed your agreement, if you needed to
  • Completed, filed and served your Notice of Family Claim
  • Completed and filed your Registration of Divorce
  • Swore your affidavit(s) as evidence
  • Prepared and filed your application for divorce
  • Served your divorce order on the other person

Copy and keep safe

Keep these important documents 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.

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