Who this guide is for
This guide is for someone who wants to make a sole application for a simple, uncontested divorce. This means you and your spouse both agree on all your family law issues and only need to apply for a divorce order. Only you will file for divorce. The other person doesn't have to file anything in a sole uncontested divorce.
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.
- You already have written agreements or orders for:
- child support,
- spousal support, and
- how to divide your property and debt.
- One of you has lived in BC for at least one year right before you start your divorce and is living in BC when you start the divorce proceeding.
- 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 and the other person don't agree about your family law issues, your divorce is contested. The contested divorce process is more complicated. You can't use this guide to get a contested divorce.
Read Contested divorce for more information.
Make sure you:
Once you've completed a separation agreement or applied for court orders, you can start to use this guide for your divorce.
If you haven't settled some of your issues, you can ask the judge to make orders about parenting, support, or property when you fill out your Notice of Family Claim in Step 3. But you and the other person must both 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 though the court process. Talk to a family lawyer before going to court.
If you haven't been separated for a year, you can complete Steps 1 to 4 of this guide. You have to wait until you've been separated for a year before you complete Step 5.
If you've been separated for less than one year and you want to apply for a divorce on the grounds of adultery or cruelty, it's a good idea to get help from a lawyer.
How long does it take to do your own divorce?
It's possible to do your divorce in four to five months once you've settled all your issues. But there are wait times, and it might take longer if:
- your Supreme Court registry is busy,
- one person lives outside the court registry's jurisdiction, or
- your application is rejected and needs to be resubmitted.
How much does it cost to do your own divorce?
You'll pay a few different court fees when you apply for a divorce:
- The fee to open a family law case with the Supreme Court:
- $30 — if you've already filed a separation agreement with the Court (it will have a court file number on it that you can use for your divorce application), or
- $200 — if you don't have a filed separation agreement and the Notice of Family Claim is the first court document you're filing.
- $10 to file the Registration of Divorce Proceedings form.
- $80 to make the final application.
You might also have to pay for:
- making photocopies of your documents,
- having your affidavits sworn. It costs around $40 to have this done at the court registry, but places offering notary services might charge 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, if needed,
- hiring a process server to serve your documents on the other person, if you choose to hire a professional, and
- ordering a Certificate of Divorce (Form F56), if you want one. This costs $40.
Get legal help
Talk to a lawyer
Before you begin your own divorce, meet with a family lawyer to find out about your rights and responsibilities. You and the other person might have a right to spousal or child support or to property, pensions, or other assets 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 your family law issues (particularly child support) have been settled in an agreement or court order.
To find a lawyer, call the Lawyer Referral Service.
Dividing property and debts
Dividing property and debts can be complicated. If you have property and debt together, get legal advice.
You only have two years from the date of your divorce to claim (start a court action for) spousal support or your share of property and debt. See Dividing property and debts after you separate for more information.
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 Abbotsford, Nanaimo, Surrey, Victoria, and Vancouver can also answer your questions and help you fill out forms. Call someone who can help or find your nearest office.
If you want to use a mediator, see Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court.
Work through this guide at your own pace. There's no need to rush.
Gather your documents
- your original marriage certificate,
- money to pay a translator to translate your marriage certificate into English, if needed,
- a copy of your separation agreement or court order(s), if you have any,
- a recent photo of the other person, if needed, and
- your change of name certificate, if needed.
Your marriage certificate
To get a divorce, you need your original marriage certificate or a certified true copy of your marriage registration. The court won't accept the certificate you received from the place where you got married.
If you were married and need to get a marriage certificate:
- 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.
There's usually a fee to have your original marriage certificate or a certified copy sent to you. 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, ask your Supreme Court registry if they accept marriage certificates in French or if you have to get it translated into English.
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, attach the translation and the affidavit as exhibits.
Your separation agreement or court order
You need your separation agreement or court order to show what you've agreed to or what the court has already ordered about parenting, child support, spousal support, and other family law issues.
If you haven't already filed your agreement with the Supreme Court, do that now to open a family law case. For more information, see Step 2: File your agreement, if you have one.
A photo of the other person, if needed
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 have sworn in an affidavit it's a true likeness of the person), or
- copy or take a photo of the other person's driver's licence or other photo identification (ID).
Your change of name certificate, if needed
You don't need to apply for a legal name change to use the name you had before you were married. After you separate, you can use either your name from before you were married or the other person's name without legally changing it.
If you had 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. To do this, you also need your change of name certificate from the Vital Statistics Agency.
Whatever you feel as you work through this guide is normal and okay.
File your agreement, if you have one
If you have an agreement about parenting arrangements, contact with a child, child support, and/or spousal support and you haven't yet filed it with the court, do that now. Filing your agreement is a simple process. (See File Your Agreement in Supreme Court.) You also save money if you do it before you file anything else.
- a copy of your signed parenting and/or support agreement,
- a blank Requisition (Form 17.1), and
- $30 to pay the filing fee.
How to file your agreement
Make a copy of your signed parenting and/or support agreement.
Fill out the Requisition (Form F17.1) to ask the court to file the agreement.
On the first page, fill in your name as Claimant #1 and the other person's name as Claimant #2. 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.
You can file your agreement at the Supreme Court registry where an existing case between you and your spouse is filed. If no court action has been started, you can file at the registry closest to where you live.
The staff at the family registry counter checks that the agreement is complete. Then they take your payment and stamp the agreement with the court seal. If there is already an existing family law case, they put the agreement into your court file.
If no court action has been started, the registry will stamp a court file number on your agreement when you file it. You now have an open family law case. Put the same court file number on the rest of the forms you're preparing 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 Family Claim.
Fill out two forms
- A blank Notice of Family Claim(Form F3)
- A blank Registration of Divorce Proceedings form
- A copy of your separation agreement or court order(s), for reference
- Your original marriage certificate, for reference
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.
This form has a main section plus optional schedules for 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 the general information and Schedule 1 – Divorce.
1. Court File Number and Registry
If you already have an open family law case in Supreme Court, type in the file number here. Choose your registry location from the drop-down list.
- Type in your name.
- Click the grey Relationship button and type in “is the married spouse of the Respondent.” Click the blue Close button to hide this section again.
- Click the green Address for Service button and type in your mailing address. Add a fax number or an email address if you want to receive documents by fax or email. Click the blue Close button to hide this section again.
- Type in your spouse's name.
- Click the grey Relationship button and type in “is the married spouse of the Claimant.”
If either of you often uses a name that's different from what's on your marriage certificate, include that as well. This might be a 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.
- Tick were married on and add the date and location of the marriage.
- Tick separated on and add the date you separated.
- Tick One or more of the following relates to claims made.
- Tick agreement, court orders, or both. Add the dates of the agreement or orders.
- Tick An order for divorce. Schedule 1 will then appear at the bottom of the form.
- If you want a legal change of name, also tick Another order. Schedule 5 will then appear at the bottom of the form.
You don't need to tick any other boxes.
Choose the same registry location you chose at the top of the form. The address of the registry is already filled in.
Tick Party's Certificate. Your name is already filled in.
1. Personal Information
Type in the information about you and your spouse. Fill in all the fields.
2. Grounds for divorce
Tick these boxes:
- The claimant asks for an order for divorce on these grounds:
- If divorce is claimed as a result of having lived separate and apart, tick The claimant and his or her spouse have lived separate and apart since, and add the date you separated.
- Tick the correct box to show whether you have or haven't lived together since you separated.
3. The claimant confirms that
Tick both boxes in this section.
4. Proof of marriage
Your proof of marriage is your original marriage certificate. You need to file this with your Notice of Family Claim.
If you don't already have your original marriage certificate or a certified copy of the registration of marriage, go back to Step 1: Gather your documents.
If you have no children, tick the first box.
If you have children, tick the second box and type in the names and birthdates of your children, and the name of the parent they live with.
You don't need to ask for a legal change of name if you're just going back to the name you used before you were married. But if you had legally changed your name, or if you want to change it to something different, you can do that here.
You can also apply to do this later through the Legal Changes of Name page on the BC government website. There's a fee for this.
When you’ve filled out the whole form and schedule, you can either:
- print the form so you can sign it in pen, or
- preview the document and sign it digitally.
Registration of Divorce Proceedings form
Fill out the Registration of Divorce Proceedings form online. In Section 1, type the date you'll go to the registry to file the application for divorce. This might be different from the date you fill out the form.
Once you've filled out the form, print it out (this generates a barcode used to process the form). Take this form with your Notice of Family Claim for filing at the court registry.
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 the registry in Ottawa sends written clearance back to your registry. This can take four to six weeks.
It can help to talk about your feelings with a supportive friend or a group of people in the same situation.
File and serve your documents
This step is divided into three parts:
- your completed Notice of Family Claim,
- your completed Registration of Divorce Proceedings form,
- your original marriage certificate or a certified true copy of your registration of marriage,
- your translation into English and Affidavit of Translation, if needed,
- your change of name certificate, if needed,
- photocopies of your documents,
- $10 to file your Registration of Divorce Proceedings form, and
- $200 to file your Notice of Family Claim if you didn't file your separation agreement.
If you already filed your separation agreement, filing your Notice of Family Claim is free because you already have an open family law case.
You can file your documents at any Supreme Court registry. You 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 close to where you live or work.
Make copies of the forms
Make three copies of the completed and signed 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 form if you'd like to keep copies of them. You file both of these at the registry, so you won't get to keep your original marriage certificate.
If you had a legal change of name, make a copy of your change of name certificate.
File your forms at the registry
The staff at the registry's divorce counter check to make sure your documents are complete. They take your payment and stamp the completed documents with the court seal, and put them in a file for your case.
The registry keeps the originals and gives the stamped copies back to you.
You now have an open Supreme Court family law case with a court file number. Put this number on the rest of the forms you're preparing so the registry knows that you already have an open file.
- An adult (a process server you hire, or a friend or relative) to serve your documents on the other person
- 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 photo of the other person, if needed
The filed Notice of Family Claim must be served by personal service. This means that someone has to physically give 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.
Serving by personal service
Give the person serving the documents:
- two copies of the filed Notice of Family Claim — one for the other person (the respondent) and one attached to an Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15),
- the other person's home and work addresses,
- the other person's telephone number and email address (so the person serving the documents can contact them to arrange a time for service); and
- a photo of the other person.
If the person serving the documents has to use a photo to identify the other person, they need to swear or affirm that the photo is a "true likeness of the respondent."
You can also add a short statement about this to your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce when you come to it — you deal with this form in Step 5: Fill out the next forms. Or, you can fill out a separate Affidavit and have it sworn by a commissioner for taking affidavits, but that takes more time and costs more money.
If your friend or relative will give the other person the documents, you or they can email or text the person receiving the documents to arrange a time to meet.
The person serving the documents must:
- Compare the copies to the originals to make sure they're the same.
- Give one copy to the other person.
- Copy or take a photo of the photo ID that the person being served provided.
- Make a note of the date and time where the documents were served.
- Provide you with a sworn Affidavit of Personal Service.
Affidavit of Personal Service
The person who served the documents must:
- Fill out the Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15), including the date and time they served the documents.
- Attach the copies of the served documents and the photograph or description (if used) to the affidavit.
- Mark each copy as an exhibit and label them Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, etc.
- 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 it with their name and contact information. They'll also stamp and sign each attachment.
- 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 for permission to let the other person know about the divorce by alternative (substitutional) service. For example, you can ask that the court consider the documents as 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.
See Arrange for alternative (substitutional) service to learn more about this.
- 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 example, for child support, spousal support, parenting or other 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.
You’re making good progress. Take a break if you need to.
Fill out the next forms
- A blank Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce (Form F38)
- A blank Child Support Affidavit (Form F37), if you have dependent children
- A blank Requisition (Form F17)
- A blank Requisition (Form F35)
- A blank Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36)
- A blank draft Final Order (Form F52)
- Your separation agreement or court orders
- Your photo identification (ID)
- Someone to swear or affirm your affidavits (a lawyer, notary, or other commissioner)
Fill out your affidavit(s)
You won't need to go to trial and give evidence to a judge. Instead, you write your evidence 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:
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.
If the person who served the Notice of Family Claim had to use a photograph, you can add a statement to your Affidavit — Desk Order Divorce where you affirm that the photograph is a true likeness of the person who was served. 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).
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).
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 Get a family order in Provincial Court if you both agree or Change a family order in Supreme Court if you both agree.
Fill out four more forms
Next, you need to fill out four more forms that will help the court to process your divorce application.
Requisition (Form F17)
This short form 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 will prove that your case is uncontested.) You don't need to list documents. In the form, under Required, on the first page, simply type or write this statement:
"A search for a Response to Family Claim or Counterclaim filed in this matter."
Requisition (Form F35)
This form tells the court that you want a divorce and, if you want one, a name change. It also tells the court what documents you're providing to support your application. In the form, under Required, on the first page, type or write this statement:
"A Final Order, without a hearing, in the form attached."
Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36)
The registry staff sign the Certificate of Pleadings to show 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're asking for. You fill in all the details, and the judge signs 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 30 days 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:
- notary public, or
- other commissioner for taking affidavits.
If you want to use a lawyer or a notary public (for a fee), make sure they can swear or affirm the document for you. You might need to make an appointment. 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.
You can also find commissioners in courthouse registries, at both Supreme Court and Provincial Court. See Who can swear an affidavit?
When you go to have your affidavit(s) sworn, the person swearing the documents checks your photo identification. They 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 swearing the documents signs the affidavit and stamps it with their name and contact information. They also stamp and sign any attached exhibits.
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
- your completed forms, and
- $80 in filing fees.
Prepare your application
Now that you've completed all the documents, you need to apply for your divorce.
Make one copy of your completed forms:
- Requisition (Form F17)
- Requisition (Form F35)
- Draft Final Order (Form F52)
- Certificate of Pleadings (Form F36)
- Affidavit of Personal Service (Form F15)
- Child Support Affidavit (Form F37), if it applies, with your separation agreement or court orders attached as exhibits
- 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. If your documents are ready to file, they take your payment for your application of divorce. (As of June 2022, it costs $80.) They stamp the original and the copy, and give the copy back to you.
Ask the registry staff when your divorce order is likely to be ready for pick up.
Pick up your signed divorce order
The registry won't let you know when the order has been signed. You have to contact them after four weeks to see if it's ready.
Once you've picked up your divorce order, keep a copy of it in a safe place.
If the judge reviews your application and doesn't have enough information to be satisfied that there are proper financial arrangements in place for the children, you might have to appear in court.
The registry will let you know if this is required.
When will you be divorced?
The divorce becomes effective 31 days after the judge signed the order. For example, if the judge signed your divorce order on September 15, your divorce becomes final on October 16.
These 31 days are the appeal period. In theory, the other person can file a last-minute appeal during this time to stop the divorce. But this is rare.
It's normal to feel tense or emotional at this point. Take a break if you need to.
Serve your divorce order
- a copy of your divorce order signed by a judge,
- the other person's last known mailing address, and
- Fax Cover Sheet (Form F95), if you fax the document
You must serve a copy of the divorce order on the other person as soon as possible, unless the court explicitly says that you don't have to. You can 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
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 after the day it was sent. If that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, it's considered served on the next business day.
You don't need to complete an Affidavit of Ordinary Service.
You're stronger and more resilient than you think.
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.
Fill out a Requisition (Form F17). This form includes instructions on how 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 June 2022, 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 with your registry.
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.
Copy and keep safe
Copy and keep these important documents safe:
- your signed divorce order,
- your separation agreement or court orders, and
- your Certificate of Divorce, if you order one.
You've now gone through all the steps required to get a sole uncontested divorce in Supreme Court. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.
People react differently to things. Whatever you feel now is okay.