Adultery and divorce under family law rules in Canada

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

It seems that unfaithfulness causes more rifts in marriages than anything else. Although family law has paved the way for uncontested divorce in Canada, adultery still seems to be one of the main reasons either one or both spouses decides that a marriage is on the rocks. The Divorce Act — a federal law overseen by individual provinces — provides that adultery, along with mental cruelty and physical separation for at least one year, are all grounds for divorce.

The spouse who bore the brunt of the adultery is the one who can use it as a grounds for divorce. In other words, the person who had an affair can’t use his or her own unfaithfulness as a reason for divorcing. The duration of the affair isn’t an issue, nor is how many times sexual relations took place. One indiscretion is enough, according to the law.

The court doesn’t need to see actual proof by way of photos or video, but has to hear enough evidence that a sexual incident(s) did indeed take place. Although it may be sad, an emotional affair or an internet dalliance, doesn’t apply. The person with whom the adultery took place doesn’t need to be named and these same rules apply for same-sex spouses.  

An experienced family law lawyer in Canada may be able to enlighten his or her clients on these issues that surround divorce. These issues can be very complex and overwhelming. A compassionate lawyer may be able to offer some guidance and insight to help his or her client through a potentially difficult situation.  

Source:, “How Adultery Affects Divorce: 5 Questions You Were Afraid To Ask“, Russell Alexander, Accessed on April 6, 2018

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