As recently as the early 1980s, it was very difficult for a couple to get a divorce in Canada if they were simply not getting along; there had to be some “fault” on the part of one spouse.*
However, in 1985 the Divorce Act was revamped, and what is now known as “no-fault” divorce was introduced for the first time. While controversial at the time, no-fault divorces are now largely accepted by the public.
Under the Divorce Act, there is only one ground for divorce, which is “breakdown of a marriage”. Breakdown of a marriage can be established on the following bases:
- The spouses have lived separately and apart for at least one year immediately before and at the start of the divorce proceeding; or
- The other spouse has committed adultery or cruelty against the one who applied for a divorce.
As a family law lawyer, occasionally I have clients come to me complaining about the (alleged) adultery or cruelty of their spouses. However, I generally tell them that to obtain a divorce on these grounds may cause unnecessary pain and emotional turmoil, as well as an increase in cost.
I generally advise my clients that their priority should be obtaining a proper separation agreement to secure their rights, rather than a divorce as means of revenge. After the signing of a separation agreement, the spouses can go their separate ways; in one year the divorce order will come through and they’ll be free to remarry. For more information on separation and divorce agreements, click here.
*Kristen Douglas, Divorce Law in Canada, online: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Services
Caution and disclaimer: The above article is provided solely for educational purposes. This is not legal advice. Readers must seek independent legal advice from a properly licensed practitioner.