What Is Legal Separation?

 In Family Law

Separation is not the same as divorce. In British Columbia, separation is not a legal matter. Divorce is a legal process where two partners detach their assets, fiancés, and lives. There are several common misconceptions regarding the difference and requirements of a legal separation, separation agreements, separation dates and more.

The federal Divorce Act and the provincial Family Law Act govern British Columbia in regards to divorce and separation. Neither of these acts requires any formal documentation for a married couple to separate.  The term “legal separation” is misleading, as there are no legal processes involved, simply negotiations between the two parties. These are some useful facts regarding the processes, requirements, and difference in a marriage separation.


Physical Separation

This refers to one party vacating the previously shared residence. This form of separation can be the easiest to document, as the separation date can be the day the respective party leaves the home. Though, when financial or other reasons disallow the immediate physical separation of two partners, the partners can live “separate and apart” inside of the same residence. When living together, separate bedrooms, an absence of sexual relations, limited communication, separate meal times and other efforts to distance themselves are all ways to show intent for permanent physical separation.


Intent to Separate Permanently

BC provincial Family Law Act dictates that courts can consider communication or an action displayed by one party to the other as intent to separate permanently. Though, it is also common for the two parties to disagree on when the intent was provided and when the separation date truly was. “Intention” is most commonly verbally communicated, so when parties disagree on the date of intention, neither individual involved can provide much concrete evidence. This issue can be avoided by following up a verbal “intent” conversation with a written document. Texts, emails or other tangible forms of communication can act as confirmation evidence for dates of conveyed separation intent.

The Divorce Act states that the parties must have lived separate and apart for at least one year in order to get a divorce, which makes a specific separation date important to several cases. The separation date will also impact the segregation of various assets and financial property. Consult a professional divorce lawyer today to ensure that your separation and future divorce proceedings go smoothly.

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