Grounds for Divorce

What are the grounds for divorce in Canada?

In Canada, a breakdown of the marriage is grounds for divorce. Breakdown of the marriage may occur in three ways:

  • The spouses have lived apart for at least one year before the divorce is finalized and were living apart at the time that the divorce petition was filed.
  • The respondent (this means the person being divorced) has committed adultery since the date of the marriage.
  • The respondent has treated his or her spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such seriousness that it is impossible for the two to continue to live together.

Note that the one-year waiting requirement does not apply where there has been adultery or physical or mental cruelty. In that case, you may file an application for divorce immediately.

Last Reviewed: August 2015

What is adultery?

Adultery means voluntary sexual intercourse between a spouse and any person other than his or her spouse while the marriage exists.

Last Updated: August 2015

How do you prove adultery? Does someone have to admit it in court?

The procedure may vary a bit from province to province. In Alberta, there is a standard form of affidavit that a person can sign that admits adultery. It says that a spouse had sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse while married. This affidavit is filed at the courthouse along with the other divorce documents and will serve to prove adultery. You should check with a lawyer in your province to see about the procedure.

Last Reviewed: August 2015

What is an affidavit?

Affidavits are written statements made by a person who swears or affirms that he or she is telling the truth. It is sworn or affirmed before a Commissioner of Oaths or a Notary who will ask the person to swear to a supreme being or something sacred to the person or to affirm, that they are telling the truth. The person gives evidence in an affidavit by making statements of fact about an aspect of his or her court case, in this situation, about committing adultery. This sworn or affirmed statement is then filed at the courthouse and read by the judge handling the divorce case.

Last Updated: August 2015

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