NB Courts

What is the difference between a separation and a divorce?

A separation is when one or both spouses decide to live apart without the intention of ever living together again. In dealing with issues arising out of a separation, such as support, parenting arrangements, parenting time and property division, you may reach an informal agreement with your former spouse, or you may legally resolve the issues, by negotiating a separation agreement. A divorce occurs when you legally end your marriage. A divorce is an order signed by a judge under the authority of the federal Divorce Act.

 Who can apply for a divorce?

It is not necessary that you be a Canadian citizen to apply for a divorce in Canada . You may apply for a divorce if you were legally married either in Canada or in any other country. Before you can apply for a divorce, you must intend to permanently separate from your spouse. Also, either you or your spouse must have lived in Canada for at least one year immediately preceding your divorce application.

 What are the grounds for a divorce?

In Canada, "breakdown of the marriage" is the only ground required to obtain a divorce. Canadian law considers that a marriage has broken down if one of the following conditions applies:

  • you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for one year and you or your spouse consider your marriage over;
  • your spouse has committed adultery and you have not forgiven him or her; or
  • your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you, making cohabitation unbearable.

 Where can I get a copy of my divorce certificate?

You can request a copy of your divorce certificate on the Service New Brunswick Web Site upon payment of the applicable fee.

What is marital property?

Assets acquired before or during the marriage that are owned by one or both spouses and ordinarily used by them and their children while living together are considered marital property (e.g. marital homes, personal investments, automobiles, household goods, pensions, etc.).

 Where can an abused person go for help and what help is available?

If you're in immediate danger, contact your local police to secure your safety. There are many Transition Houses to provide you with a secure environment. Also the PLEIS-NB Web site has many publications that could give you more information.

What if I was living common law?

You may be eligible to receive Legal Aid. You should contact the Legal Aid office in your area to make an appointment to determine eligibility.

How can I change an order or agreement for child support?

You can ask the court to vary a support order when there is a significant change in your circumstances. Either the payor or the beneficiary of the support payments may apply to the Court to change the order where, based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines, a change in circumstances would result in a different support award. In order to avoid going to court, parents can also use mediation to reach an agreement on the variation of child support. Check your local listings for mediators in your area.

What is the cut-off age for child support?

The duty to provide child support generally lasts until the child reaches 19 years of age. The order may, in exceptional circumstances, last longer. This typically occurs, if the child is a full time student or is disabled.

Are our children entitled to support if my spouse and I were never married?

Yes. Children are entitled to support regardless of the marital status of their parents.

Do I have rights if I am separating from a same sex, common law relationship?

Yes. You may apply to the Family Division for an order for support, parenting arrangements of children and a division of assets and debts. 

Where can I get more information on Family Law?

The Family Law Information Line, operated by PLEIS-NB offers general information on a wide array of family law topics such as parenting orders, support, divorce and separation. The toll-free number is: 1-888-236-2444. PLEIS-NB also has a Web site.


Pamphlet on frequently asked questions regarding marital property.