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How Desk Order Divorces Work In BC

How Desk Order Divorces Work in BC

In British Columbia, couples that have already firmly agreed on the terms of their divorce can save time and money by filing for a desk order divorce. This saves the couple from having to appear in front of a judge to obtain a divorce order. While it may sound like this process is a path to a “simple divorce”, couples should be warned that the vast majority of applications for desk order divorces are not accepted by the courts because the paperwork was not done correctly. If you are unsure if a desk order divorce is right for your divorce, have a look at our blog post on which situations they are best suited for.

What is the Process of a Desk Order Divorce?

First, a desk order divorce cannot be filed until the couple has agreed upon all of the terms of their divorce. Only once all family law issues are resolved, can couples apply to the BC Supreme Court for a divorce order. This is also known as an uncontested divorce. Couples can file on their own, but it is advisable to file jointly to save time and court fees.

The desk order divorce application involves filling out several forms and providing the court with affidavits confirming the terms of your divorce. This is often where applications fail, as applicants assume they do not need assistance in filling out the forms. The court requires a high level of detail in the evidence provided by couples for things like what will happen to joint marital assets, and in particular, plans for the maintenance and well-being of the children of the marriage. It is very important that couples seeking a desk order divorce consult an expert on the required documents before submitting them to the court. If the court denies the application, the couple will have to provide additional evidence and may even have to appear in front of a BC Supreme Court judge, negating much of the benefit provided by a desk order divorce.

Couples should have formally agreed on all terms of their divorce before starting the process of a desk order divorce.

To start the application, couples will need their original marriage certificate. Couples who have misplaced this will have to contact the Vital Statistics Agency to purchase a new copy, or provide a certified true copy from a lawyer or notary. Then, couples will need to complete a Notice of Family Claim (form F3) to begin divorce proceedings. There are other forms that may be necessary in couples’ unique circumstances. To be certain you have filled out all the necessary forms for a successful desk order divorce, it is always advisable to contact a family lawyer for help with the forms and the process.

What Happens Next

If couples did not file jointly, the filing spouse must serve the documents on their former partner. The spouse which was served the documents has 30 days to respond to the claim. If they do not respond within the 30 day period, the serving spouse can apply directly to the courts for a divorce order. In these circumstances, there are several other forms which will be required by the courts to grant the order. If the spouses filed jointly, there is no waiting period following service of documents as no individual has been served. Once the court does grant the couple a divorce order, however, there is a 31 day waiting period for the divorce to take effect. The divorce becomes official at the end of this waiting period

Things Divorcees Should be Aware of

Couples seeking a desk order divorce can find the necessary forms on the BC Supreme Court Family Rules Forms page. On this page, there are numerous documents, and it can be difficult to tell which ones you must fill out for your circumstances. This is another reason why applications are often rejected, as couples can fail to complete a necessary form. Further, couples often underestimate the level of detail needed while filling out the forms, as they are overwhelmed by the large number of documents that must be completed.

It is always advisable to have a lawyer assist when filing for a desk order divorce. While many couples who have agreed on the terms of their divorce think that this process is a fast and simple way to file, it can quickly become complicated and exhausting without expert guidance. If you think your situation could be simplified by a desk order divorce, or need advice on documents you’ve already prepared, contact our experienced family lawyer, Jim Monier-Williams today.

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