The three legal grounds for divorce in Canada

The three legal grounds for divorce in Canada

There are many reasons why people get divorced in Canada. According to a poll by the Bank of Montreal 68 per cent of those surveyed say fighting over money caused dissolution of their marriage. Other reasons include infidelity, falling out of love and domestic abuse.

While every couple has their own reasons for deciding to end their relationship there are only three reasons that are legal grounds to get a divorce in Canada. In order to officially split from your partner you must have proof that one of these three things have occurred.

You have been living separately from your spouse for one year

To use separation as grounds for divorce you must prove that you have been living separately from your spouse for at least one year. Even if you can’t afford to live in separate homes you can still use separation as grounds for divorce if you can prove that you have been living separate lives. This means you are not sharing a room, helping each other with household chores, sharing meals or attending family or social gatherings together. It is more difficult to prove that you are separated while living in the same house, but it is possible, especially with legal assistance. Filing for divorce on the basis of separation is considered no-fault and often uncontested, which is usually the least complicated and cheapest way of getting a divorce.

One of you has committed adultery

Committing adultery means having a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse. Only the spouse who was cheated on can use this as a reason for divorce. Divorce caused by adultery is considered a for-fault divorce, meaning that one spouse is trying to prove that the other is completely at-fault for the dissolution of their marriage. In this case courts will require proof of the adultery to substantiate the claim. This type of divorce always requires legal representation and can be both lengthy and costly.

There has been physical or mental cruelty in the marriage

Physical cruelty means beating, hurting or sexually abusing your spouse. Mental cruelty can come in the form of harassing, insulting, humiliating or treating your spouse badly. Threatening your spouse or their family is also considered mental cruelty as well as having an affair. To get a divorce on these grounds the acts of cruelty must make it intolerable for the victim to continue living with their spouse. Only the spouse who has been mistreated can use this as grounds for divorce. Like adultery this is also called a for-fault divorce and the court will need substantial proof of what has occurred. Legal representation is almost always necessary.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using all three reasons to file for divorce and depending on your circumstance you may not have much option. In Canada both spouses are considered equal and can use on of these reasons to file for divorce at any time. One spouse does not need the permission of the other to file for divorce.

No matter what it is always a good idea to seek legal counsel when contemplating ending a marriage. A family lawyer will be able to advise you on your situation and ensure you are following the right path when filing for divorce.

About Tom Byrne

Tom Byrne is a lawyer with offices in Kemptville and Cornwall, Ontario. He is a general practitioner with experience in real estate, wills, powers of attorney and estates, family law and criminal and civil litigation. A country boy at heart, Tom enjoys living and working in rural Ontario and the personal touch he is able to offer his clients through his small practice. He is an active member of his community through his work with the Knights of Columbus and support of the Kemptville Youth Centre.