A desk order divorce is an uncontested divorce proceeding that enables spouses to obtain a divorce without a court hearing. There are two ways to obtain a desk order divorce - through the sole application process and the joint application process. I will just be discussing the steps in the sole application process.
Generally, a desk order divorce will be available where a divorce proceeding is undefended or uncontested from the outset, and where a contested matter becomes an uncontested proceeding by the withdrawal of a defence or the discontinuance of a claim.
Here are the main steps in a sole desk order divorce process:
1. Obtain your marriage certificate or registration of marriage. If you do not have it, you can obtain it from the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency.
2. File at a B.C. Supreme Court registry the original and 3 copies of the Notice of Family Claim. You will need to include your original marriage certificate or a certified copy of your registration of marriage, a registration of divorce proceeding form (available at the court registry), and the filing fee (currently $210).
3. Arrange to have a process server or someone other than yourself serve your ex-spouse with the Notice of Family Claim. The process server will need 2 copies of the Notice of Family Claim and a photograph of your ex-spouse. The process server will serve one copy on your ex-spouse and attach the other copy and the photograph to his or her Affidavit of Personal Service to prove your ex-spouse was served. If your ex-spouse cannot be located, you will have to apply for an order for substituted service.
4. Finalize the process server’s Affidavit of Personal Service and ensure that it has been sworn or affirmed before a lawyer or notary public.
5. Wait at least 31 days from the date of service on your ex-spouse before preparing the divorce order application forms. If your ex-spouse files a Response to Family Claim, your matter becomes contested and you will have to settle or litigate your family law issues.
6. Prepare the divorce order application forms, which generally consist of the following:
- Affidavit in support of the application (must be sworn/affirmed before a lawyer or notary public within 30 days of the date the application for the divorce is filed)
- Certificate of the Registrar
- Draft of the order(s) sought
- Requisition for the order sought
- Proof of service – Affidavit of Personal Service or Affidavit of Substituted Service
- Child Support Affidavit (if applicable) setting out the parties incomes and child support arrangements (must be sworn/affirmed before a lawyer or notary public within 30 days of the date the application for the divorce is filed)
7. File the divorce application forms and pay the court fee (currently $80) at the court registry where you filed your Notice of Family Claim.
8. After 5 weeks, check with the court registry to see if the divorce order is ready for pick up. Once you have received it, mail a copy to your ex-spouse. It can take from 4 to 16 weeks to process the order depending on the court registry.
9. You are officially divorced once you have received the entered divorce order and 31 days have passed.
10. If you would like to obtain a Certificate of Divorce (required if you wish to remarry), you will have to wait 32 days from the date the divorce order was made before filing a draft Certificate of Divorce and Requisition. You will have to pay a court fee (currently $40). You can wait at the court registry while your Certificate of Divorce is completed.