Going through separation

There's no such thing as a "legal separation." You become separated when at least one of you wants to separate and you start living apart. You don't have to see a lawyer, sign a document, or go to court.

It's always a good idea to try to work out an agreement together. Staying out of court will save you a lot of time, money, energy, and stress.

Whether you're married or common-law, you and your spouse can decide what you want to do about parenting time, support, property, and debt in a written separation agreement.

If you're having trouble agreeing on what to do about these issues, mediation might help.

See Who can help you reach an agreement for information about writing an agreement with help from a lawyer, family justice counsellor, or mediator.

You can also write your own agreement. See Write your own separation agreement to find out how you can make a separation agreement without going to court.

You should each get legal advice before you sign an agreement you write yourselves.If you can't afford a lawyer, you can get legal help in other ways, including:

Unbundled legal services are a good option if you want help with certain tasks but not with your whole case.

If you're married, your separation might be temporary while you work on the problems in your marriage, or it might be the first step to getting a divorce.

Thinking about leaving?

About separation

You don't need to apply for a separation. If you're married or common-law, you become separated when at least one of you wants to separate and you start living apart.

Preparing for separation

What should you take if you leave your spouse?

Make sure you're prepared with this list of important documents and belongings to take with you if you're leaving your relationship and family home.

Proving you're separated if you and your spouse still live together

It's possible to be separated but still live together if you need to. You can ask the court to consider other factors to prove that you've separated.

Which laws can you use for your family law issue?

Explains the two family laws in effect in BC (Divorce Act and Family Law Act) plus case law, and when each of these might be used in a family law case.

Help with your separation issues


A mediator is a person who is specially trained to help people reach agreements. Mediation might help you and your spouse negotiate your separation without going to court.