Family Law Blog

Adultery and Divorce – The Legal Standpoint

Adultery and Divorce – The Legal Standpoint

Adultery is a topic we come face-to-face with often in the realm of family law. Clients will approach us seeking a divorce, citing adultery as one of their reasons. These clients are often shocked when we explain the relative lack of importance adultery has in the eyes of the Canadian legal system, and why it’s usually wise to leave it out of the legal case. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the impact of adultery on a divorce.

Explaining Divorce

Divorces in Canada are handled by a 1985 law called the Federal Divorce Act. Divorces under this law are considered “no fault,” meaning adultery is generally only relevant for proving that the marriage has broken down. In fact, to get a divorce in Canada, a spouse simply has to prove there has been a breakdown in the marriage. This can be achieved in one of three different ways:

  • The couple has been living separately for at least one year when the divorce proceeded
  • Proof is provided the spouse has committed adultery; or
  • Proof the spouse has subjected their partner to physical or mental cruelty of such an extent that living together is intolerable.

If adultery is listed as one of the three given reasons, why does it lack in importance? Simply put, one spouse would need to prove in a court of law this adultery took place. This can be an incredibly complex issue to prove and dealing with it can incur massive legal costs. The spouse accused of adultery will likely want to defend themselves from the accusation, which would require more time in court, more evidence and more costs.

As our divorce laws are “no fault” it’s of no interest to the courts who was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. In fact, a judge might see evidence of adultery as a needlessly cruel and unpleasant waste of time and effort.

Find a Divorce Lawyer in BC

As a result, the typical divorce in British Columbia will be granted on the basis of the couple living apart for the twelve preceding months. If you’re looking for advice on any stage of the divorce process, our family law experts at Westside Family Law are standing by to assist. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.