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What are the Legal Grounds for Divorce in Canada?

What are the legal grounds for divorce in Canada?

Ending a marriage in Canada isn’t something that can be done at a moments notice; there are certain conditions, or “grounds for divorce”, that must be met.

The parties involved will need to prove to the court that their marriage has broken down and that there is no chance of reconciliation. 

There are two conditions that must be met:

  • For a “no fault” divorce, the couple must be separated for one year
  • For a “for fault” divorce, one spouse must have evidence that their partner has committed adultery or has been abusive

“No Fault” Divorce

The simplest type of divorce to bring through to completion is a no fault, uncontested divorce. This is when both partners agree to end the marriage and to work together to assign responsibilities and manage assets.

In these cases, the couple must be separated for one year before the divorce can be finalized. It is, however, possible to put in the application for your divorce immediately. This gets a portion of the administration of the process completed in advance.

It is important to note that the separating couple may continue to live together, provided that they are completely independent. Proving this before the court can be difficult and requires evidence, so hiring a lawyer to ensure that the process proceeds smoothly is advised.

If the couple rekindles their relationship for longer than 90 days, or in multiple instances amounting to more than 90 days, they must “restart the clock” again if they decide to proceed with their divorce.

“For Fault” Divorce

In a “For Fault” divorce, a spouse has been abusive or has engaged in an adulterous relationship and their partner is trying to prove that they are responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.

In these cases, the court will require evidence for the claims brought forward. This does not necessarily need to be concrete evidence, such as photographs or video of an incident, but needs to provide more than the assumption that indecent behaviour occurred.

The activity does not need to be repetitive or consistent. Even one instance of sexual behaviour outside of the marriage can be enough to begin the process of divorce.

A “for fault” divorce requires assistance from a lawyer. These cases take much longer to resolve as well.

The court will decide of child custody, access and visitation regardless of the reason for a breakdown of a marriage. This means that proving your spouse’s actions causing the end of your marriage doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your desires will be met.

Finding a lawyer who will fight for you

In the end, every situation is unique. The best way to truly ensure that you are properly representing yourself and your interests is to talk to a lawyer. Epstein & Associates offers a free initial consultation, which allows you to determine if we are the right team for your case.