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Automatic Divorce After Long Separation in Canada

Automatic Divorce After Long Separation in Canada

After a long separation from your married partner, you can claim divorce. The grounds for a long break with a spouse can be logical for claiming a rightful divorce.

According to the fundamental common law of Canada, any long separation doesn’t result in automatic divorce in Canada. However, there are some exceptions where a long break causes an automatic divorce.

Well, maybe the whole complexation seems a little bit confusing to you. In this article, let’s clarify your confusion about the long separation divorce.

First Things First—Is Separation and Divorce the Same Thing in Canada?

According to the law, divorce and separation are not the same concepts. You can be separated from your legal partners for many years, but that doesn’t mean you are now divorced. The marital status will remain the same for years to come.

On the other hand, divorce is a matter of court and law. As divorce is the formal way of breaking marital status, you need to go for divorce officially in court.

Separation from legal partners can arise for many reasons. Moreover, the after-effects of separation are also huge. However, divorce helps you cut off your relationship with your legal partner.

Plus, the question of divorce comes when you are legally married to someone and want a legal ending.

According to Canada’s legal rules, the concepts of separation and divorce are not the same.

Does Long Separation Results in Automatic Divorce in Canada?

Long separation or short separation doesn’t result in automatic divorce in Canada. As long as you are not applying for divorce in court, divorce will not appear. Only official divorces are legal and effective in the eyes of the law.

Surprisingly, in some exceptional cases, separation results in automatic divorce. Let’s see the grounds for automatic divorce after the long break.

One-Year-Long Separation

There are no exact time limits for separation that cause automatic divorce; you can use the grounds of absenteeism for one year to claim divorce from your married partner.

But you need to prove to the court that you have been separated for at least one year from your partner. If spouses get back together for more than 90 days, the application for divorce processing will not be affected.

This law provides the married couple with another chance not to apply for divorce. On the other hand, the absolute absence or separation of one partner for at least one year is a genuine ground for divorce. You can apply to the court to pursue the rightful divorce claim.

Death of Married Partner

The death of a married person automatically results in divorce for his partner. This kind of separation only results in an automatic divorce.

If one half-married partner is absent or hospitalized due to a severe mental disorder or injury, you can claim for rightful divorce. Here, the separation can be used as a claim for a rightful divorce.

Although the person has a slight or significant chance of getting back into regular life again, you don’t need to wait for him anymore.

In another way, long separation results in automatic divorce. If a legally married person is absent for at least seven years without any contact, they will be considered permanently absent or departed. In that case, spouses will be automatically divorced.

Domestic Violence and Long Separation

Domestic violence is the beginning of all marital problems. If any domestic violence happens, the wife or husband can live separately. Later, the long separation can be used as a legal ground for divorce. The establishment of domestic violence claims also helps the partner earn rightful compensation.

In cases of domestic violence, taking legal advice from a domestic violence lawyer will be the better option.

Moreover, if the spouse claims to curtail any rights against the legal partner, they can live separately. Later, they can apply to the court for a divorce.

So, it is clear that there are no definite time limits for separations that result in automatic divorce. However, if the grounds of separation ask for a divorce, you can establish your claim of rightful divorce for a long time.

Timelines for Divorce Proceedings in Canada

The timeline for divorce proceedings in Canada can vary depending on several factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, whether there are any children involved, and the complexity of the case. However, in general, an uncontested divorce can be completed in as little as 4 to 6 months, while a contested divorce can take up to 12 months or more.

Here is a general overview of the timeline for divorce proceedings in Canada:

Step 1: Separation

The first step in the divorce process is to separate from your spouse. This means that you and your spouse must live apart for at least one year. There is no requirement that you live in separate households during this time, but you must be living separately and apart from each other in every way.

Step 2: File for Divorce

Once you have been separated for at least one year, you can file for divorce. You will need to file a divorce petition with the court in the province or territory where you live. The petition will include information about your marriage, your separation, and your request for a divorce.

Step 3: Serve the Petition

Once you have filed your petition, you will need to serve it on your spouse. This means that you must give them a copy of the petition and a notice of hearing. You can serve the petition yourself or hire a process server to do it for you.

Step 4: Respond to the Petition

Your spouse has 30 days to respond to your petition. If they do not respond, you can ask the court to grant you a divorce without their consent. However, if your spouse does respond, you will need to negotiate with them or go to court to resolve any outstanding issues.

Step 5: Finalize the Divorce

Once all of the issues have been resolved, you will need to finalize your divorce. This will involve a hearing in front of a judge. At the hearing, the judge will review your case and decide whether to grant your divorce.

Step 6: Receive Your Divorce Certificate

Once your divorce is finalized, you will receive a divorce certificate from the court. This certificate will confirm that your marriage is over and that you are now legally divorced.

It is important to note that these timelines are just estimates and may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case. If you have any questions about the divorce process, you should consult with an experienced family law lawyer.

Other Common Grounds for Divorce in Canada

Besides a long separation, other common causes of divorce can include:

  • Infidelity or cheating in marriage
  • Broken communication
  • Financial disagreements
  • Incompatibility or irreconcilable differences
  • Lack of intimacy or affection
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Domestic violence or abuse
  • Growing apart or drifting away from each other
  • Religious and cultural differences
  • Constant verbal and physical abuse


Automatic divorce after a long separation in Canada is not legally possible. However, separation for more than one year can be used as a legal ground for divorce. Divorce in Canada is only possible under the official procedures of the court.

If you are separated and want to get a divorce on legal grounds, then contact a divorce lawyer to complete all divorce proceedings.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following section lists the most frequently asked questions answered regarding the topic.

Can I Get Divorce Within 3 Months of Marriage?

After one year of extended separation, you can apply for divorce. However, if any legal grounds for divorce arise, you can apply for civil divorce anytime. In those cases, only the legal matter will be judged. Getting a divorce within 3 months of marriage in Canada is tough. But if you have a lawful reason, you can claim divorce in civil court within 3 months.

How many years do you have to be separated to be legally divorced in Canada?

In Canada, you can get a divorce based on a one-year separation period. This means you and your spouse must live separately for at least one year before applying for a divorce, regardless of the reason for separation.

What happens if you separate but never divorce?

If you separate but never proceed with a divorce, you are still legally married. This means you and your spouse maintain certain rights and responsibilities tied to marriage, such as potential entitlement to spousal support, inheritance rights, or obligations related to property division in the event of death or other legal matters.

What happens if my spouse dies and we are separated but not divorced?

If your spouse dies while you are separated but not divorced, your legal status as the surviving spouse remains intact. Depending on the circumstances and whether a will exists, you might still have rights to inherit property or assets, claim insurance, or be entitled to certain benefits as a surviving spouse.

Is it cheating if you are separated but not divorced?

The definition of cheating in relationships can vary based on individual beliefs and agreements within a marriage. Legally, while you're still married, dating or engaging in romantic relationships during separation might not constitute cheating, as the marriage is still legally binding. However, it can impact the emotional dynamics and may influence legal proceedings, particularly if there are concerns about financial support or custody arrangements for children.

Are you automatically divorced after 5 years in Canada?

In Canada, you're not automatically divorced after 5 years. Most provinces require at least a year of separation before filing for divorce. Legal steps are necessary to officially end a marriage—simply reaching 5 years doesn't trigger an automatic divorce. For precise guidance, consulting a family law attorney is recommended.

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