Experienced family lawyers and divorce lawyers who regularly handle cases where couples wish to end their marriage know that each case is unique. The reasons for breakdown of the relationship are as varied as the couple themselves.
However, studies have shown that there are some common reasons why couples wish to terminate their marriages. A poll conducted by the Bank of Montreal reveals that 68% of couples admit that conflicts over money would be the top reason for divorce. Finances are also the biggest reason for disputes during divorce proceedings. Infidelity, change in feelings towards the spouse, domestic or child abuse and alcohol dependence are some of the other reasons why couples decide to separate.
Whatever the actual reasons, the law provides certain specific “Grounds For Divorce.” Canada has what is called “No-Fault Divorce” laws. This means that the only grounds for the divorce is a breakdown of the marital relationship for the reasons specified in the Divorce Act.
Grounds For Divorce
The couple has to prove to the courts that their marriage has broken down irretrievably and cannot be repaired. The ways in which this can be proven are by proving:
- One year or more of separation
- Abuse or Cruelty – Physical and/or Mental
One year or more of separation: The couple has to prove that they live apart and don’t intend to live together any more or be a part of each other’s lives in future. This is easily proved if they don’t share a home but it is also possible to demonstrate intention to live separately. If the couple lives in separate rooms, have no sexual relationship, regular normal communication, share chores, maintain separate cooking/shopping/eating arrangements and have separate social lives.
It is left to the judge to decide whether the couple has really been living separately for a year.
Adultery: is defined as having a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse. Unless the relationship is sexual, it cannot be termed adultery. The spouse who was cheated-on has to file for divorce and joint petitions based on such grounds are not valid. If the cheated-on spouse forgives the adulterous spouse, then adultery can no longer be used as grounds for divorce.
Abuse or Cruelty – Physical and/or Mental: Physical cruelty is causing actual physical harm. This includes beating/hurting/sexual abuse. Mental cruelty includes harassment, insult and humiliation. Threatening the spouse or his/her family and having an affair can also be considered as mental cruelty. These cruel acts have to be of such a nature that it becomes impossible for the spouse to tolerate them or continue the marriage. Judges may consider the socio-economic background, age, personality of the cruel spouse. They may also look at whether the actions are intentional, their impact on the victim and the family and whether they’re recurrent.
Only the victim can cite cruelty as grounds for divorce, joint petitions are invalid. If victims forgive cruelty, it cannot be used as grounds.
Either spouse can use any of these reasons and the outcomes are based on individual circumstances. A family lawyer, divorce lawyer or separation lawyer can provide the right information, assistance and advice.