A Nova Scotia man says he can’t get divorced because the courts believed he was trying to get divorced twice.

It’s because of a paperwork error.

Tim Covell has been separated from his wife for six years, and he’s been trying to get a divorce ever since.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” he says. “I’ve been criticized in court for trying to defeat the court process, when in fact I was following all the advice I was given.”

His first application was dismissed in Ontario in 2011 because of an ongoing custody issues.

But when that was sorted out, he applied for a divorce again.

“The first thing the judge said was I have a letter stating that you already have a divorce in progress.”

At that time, Covell had no idea what the judge was referring too.

As it turns out, while it was dismissed, that first divorce application was never wiped off the record.

In Canada, there is a central registry of divorce proceedings, which means whenever a divorce application is filed, every court in the country must make the registry aware.

“And then every time another divorce gets filed,” explains family lawyer Terry Sheppard, “court staff will check with that central repository to make sure that another divorce proceeding in another jurisdiction hasn’t already been filed.”

In Covell’s case, it seems to be a simple paperwork error.

“It’s extraordinarily stressful,” he adds.

Covell says the central registry has since corrected the error, but he still can’t get a divorce.

“I’ve spoken with two different lawyers,” he says. “They’ve both told me that the circumstances of my case are extremely unusual and they really have no idea what I should do.”

Lawyer Terry Sheppard says there is always a way.

“If he’s been a resident of Nova Scotia for a year, then he should be able to file for a divorce here in Nova Scotia,” explains Sheppard. “Even if there was a previous application dismissed because of incorrect information.”

Both Sheppard and Covell agree it’s an extremely complicated area of the law, and getting a divorce is not always as simple as it’s often portrayed.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.