Do I need a lawyer to separate or divorce?

You do not require a lawyer to separate or get a divorce. But working with a lawyer can be helpful.

A family lawyer can tell you what you need to be aware of when you separate or get a divorce. They can give you advice about your legal rights and responsibilities. A family lawyer can also help if you need to make an agreement to settle things with your spouse or go to court.

In many cases you do not need a court hearing to get a divorce order. If you both agree, you can get a divorce by filing the required forms at Supreme Court. If you have children, you will have to sort out parenting arrangements and child support before you can apply for divorce.

If you are filing for divorce with your spouse, you can use the free Online Divorce Assistant to prepare and print the forms you will need. The Family Law in BC website also has step-by-step guides you can use to apply for divorce with your spouse or on your own.  Another option is to go to a Justice Access Centre for free information and help with applying for divorce.

It is a good idea to get independent legal advice before you sort out parenting arrangements for your children, support issues and/or division of property. It is very important to speak to a lawyer before you sign a document that settles things with your spouse. 

Lawyers can help in different ways. You can hire a lawyer to take care of everything in your case or you can hire a lawyer to help you only with certain parts of your case. Collaborative lawyers help you settle things with your spouse, but they do not go to court. Unbundled legal services means the lawyer helps only with the legal tasks you agree upon, such as reviewing a document before you sign. Legal coaching means the lawyer helps you behind the scenes.

There are also a variety of free legal services available for people who qualify.

For more information about options for legal advice see Lawyers in the Who Can Help section.