Although not required, many couples find that a properly drafted Separation Agreement helps them put ‘things’ in order. In British Columbia, a Separation Agreement can be filed in Provincial Court or in the Supreme Court.
Either spouse can start a divorce proceeding in the Supreme Court as soon as it is apparent that the relationship is over, but the order for divorce will not be issued by the Court until the parties have lived ‘separate and apart’ for at least 12 months.
“Living separate and apart” is a term that you need to discuss with your lawyer because it is not as simple as it sounds. This date is important because the Court will look at this date when considering the 1-year of separation, and it may relevant if dealing with real estate, support and pensions.
If the divorce proceeding is commenced by way of filing a Notice of Family Claim (Form F-3), and the 1-year mark is months away, parties can take this time to settle all matters and have their decision carefully documented in the Separation Agreement.