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An introduction to divorce

Are you considering divorce, or have you recently been served divorce papers? If so, then let us clarify a few things for you. From contested to uncontested, this post will help you to understand the valid grounds for filing a divorce in Canada

The Act of Getting a Divorce in Canada

When a marriage is over the only way to legally end your relationship is to be granted a divorce. In Canada it is not required that both parties want their marriage to end in order for a divorce to be granted. It is only necessary that one party prove that the marriage has broken down and can not be repaired. The process of proving that a marriage has broken down is quite often referred to as “Grounds for Divorce”. We will explain the valid grounds for divorce in Canada, further down this page.

Throughout Canada every divorce is governed by the Federal Divorce Act. However, each province will vary on the specific documents and procedures used for their individual jurisdiction. This is just one of the reasons that it is best to contact a lawyer focusing on family law, when seeking a separation or divorce. A local lawyer will be familiar with the Family Law Act and all of the procedures in your province or jurisdiction. They will review your personal circumstances and then explain all of your obligations during a divorce, as well as ensure your rights are fully protected.

Types of Divorce

In Canada there are two types of Divorce; a Contested Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce.

Contested Divorce: In a Contested Divorce spouses do not agree. Their disagreements can be about the divorce itself, or about the terms of the divorce. (Terms such as: custody, access, support and property/debt division.) In a contested divorce lawyers must be retained and the courts must intervene.

Uncontested Divorce: In an Uncontested Divorce both spouses do agree and have signed a separation agreement to resolve all issues surrounding their Divorce. Issues such as: custody, access, support, property/debt division etc. Also, both parties want to proceed with ending their relationship and agree to the Divorce itself.

In most cases Uncontested Divorces proceed faster and are much less stressful and costly then Contested Divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in Canada

Under the Divorce Act there is only one valid reason for a divorce and that is “Marriage break down” It is necessary that at least one party prove that the marriage has broken down and can not be repaired. Currently there are three acceptable grounds which are used to prove this breakdown.

They are:

  • Adultery – One or both partners committed adultery by having sex with someone else during their marriage. After the adultery had occurred, and was discovered, the act was not forgiven, or the couple did not live together for more the 90 days.
  • Abuse/Cruelty – Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel and/or abusive to you.
  • Separation – A period of no less then one full year has passed where you and your spouse have lived separate lives.

Who can apply for a Divorce in Canada?

In order to apply for a Divorce in Canada you must meet the following criteria:

  • You were legally married. This can be in Canada or in any other country;
  • Either or both of you have lived in a Canadian province, or territory, for at least one year immediately before applying for a Divorce
  • You intend to separate permanently from your spouse and believe that there is no chance you will get back together, or you have already left your spouse and do not intend to get back together.

What is your next step?

If you are considering a divorce, or if you have been served with divorce papers, it is always best to speak with a lawyer. We will review your case, guide you through the entire process and ensure your rights are fully protected.