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Did you know?

  • Prior to 1968, there was no federal divorce law in Canada.

    • In most provinces, provincial law permitted a husband to obtain a divorce on the grounds of his wife’s adultery, and a wife to do so provided she could establish that her husband had committed incestuous adultery, rape, sodomy, bestiality, bigamy, or adultery coupled with cruelty or desertion.
    • Some provinces enacted legislation allowing either spouse to seek a divorce on the basis of adultery.
    • In Newfoundland and Quebec, there was no provincial divorce legislation – spouses had to obtain a private Act of Parliament to be divorced.
  • In 1968, the federal government passed Canada’s first Divorce Act, which established a uniform divorce law across Canada.

    • The grounds for divorce included, for the first time, no fault grounds along with fault-based grounds.
    • The grounds for divorce included permanent marriage breakdown, adultery, rape or another sexual offence such as a homosexual act, bigamy, physical or mental cruelty, and desertion.
    • For the first time, all of the grounds for divorce were equally available to men and women.
  • In 1986, the new Divorce Act was passed, which simplified the divorce process, removed many of the fault-based grounds for divorce, and shortened the period of separation for a no fault divorce to one year from three years.
  • The only ground for divorce under current law is marriage breakdown. This can be shown by adultery, physical or mental cruelty, or separation for one year.
  • Almost all divorces are granted on the basis of separation for at least one year. Attempts to obtain a divorce based on adultery or cruelty are usually opposed, which means that a contested court proceeding is required to resolve the issue of whether adultery or cruelty took place. It is almost always more expensive and takes more time (usually more than one year) to obtain a divorce based on adultery or cruelty.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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