Breaking up is harder to do

Sandra Bullock holds her Oscar for best actress in

Sandra Bullock holds her Oscar for best actress in "The Blind Side" as she arrives with her husband Jesse James at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California March 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

WILLIAM WOLFE-WYLIE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Sandra Bullock should be happy she doesn't live in Canada. Because up here in the true North, there's no way she could have got a divorce as quickly as she did down south.

"Obviously she got divorced in a state that has no fault, immediate divorce," says Brenda Crossman, a Canadian family law expert. "We don't have that."

In the U.S., divorce is an issue controlled by each individual state. That means that for 50 states, there are 50 different ways of splitting up. In Canada, though, divorces are governed by the Divorce Act, a federal law that applies to everyone across the entire country.

So while Sandra Bullock was able to legally divorce her motorcycle building now-ex-husband in a Texas court in a matter of months, apparently thanks to neither one claiming alimony and agreeing to assess their assets themselves, it would have taken six times that amount up here.

In Canada, the general rule is one year. One year of living apart, completely separate and living independent lives. Then you can get divorced.

"You could theoretically get a faster divorce through fault-based grounds like cruelty and adultery," says Crossman. "Except by the time you file everything, it's not going to be a whole lot faster."

In Canada, an immediate divorce requires proving to a court that either a spouse was abnormally cruel to the other, or adultery took place. Neither is easily done and both require waiting for a court date while filing all the appropriate paperwork.

"The vast majority in Canada live separately for a year," Crossman says. It's just easier that way.

The good news, for those looking for the silver lining at the end of their marriage, is that the legend of the $50,000 divorce is also less common in Canada.

A Canadian divorce is actually remarkably easy. Live apart for one year and it's almost automatic. File a single form with a nominal filing fee and presto - you're married no more.

These days the only way most judges will refuse to grant a divorce is if proper provisions haven't been made to care for any children.

But if you're really looking for a quick divorce, don‚t even consider seeking an annulment.

"It's infinitely more complicated," Crossman says. "You have to actually go to court and you have to fit the very very narrow definition."

Basically, for an annulment to happen you have to prove that the marriage was never consummated, that you accidentally married a sibling or that you were tricked into a marriage of which you would never have ordinarily been a part.

In Canada, couples who find that they just simply don't want to be together anymore just have to move out. Then a year later, the divorce is as simple as filing a form.

Sandra Bullock's quickie divorce may not exist in Canada, but the actual act of ending a marriage is super easy.

"Divorce itself, the actual act of changing the status of being married to being separated is really a very simple legal procedure," Crossman says.


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