The concept of a “legal separation” sometimes comes up when couples in conflict look to end their relationship. In British Columbia, no such formal status actually exists. There are no official forms or documents to make a separation valid, and no need to go to court before a judge. But, although it’s most common for separated couples to live apart, spouses can still be considered separated even if both live under the same roof.
In a separation, mutual consent is not required. It takes only one of the parties to announce their intention to end the relationship. Once this happens, couples who continue living together – often for financial reasons – nonetheless make their separation obvious in a number of ways.
One of the biggest evidences is the fact of no longer sharing the same bedroom and the absence of sexual relations. Other indicators can include having little or no communication, choosing to no longer share meals or engage in social activities together, or the way in which one or both parties portray themselves to others.
Even though such a situation may seem advantageous and convenient, one point that such couples often fail to note is the actual date when the separation began. The importance of this information typically surfaces when issues of property division and spousal support arise, but by then, many couples disagree on the details of how the intention to separate was communicated.
Although there’s no such thing as a “legal separation in B.C., parties who are considering separation do well to consult with a lawyer in order to ensure that they fully understand their rights and obligations and to reduce complications while navigating the end a spousal relationship.