Finding out that your spouse has been cheating on you can be a devastating experience. Some will forgive their spouse for their behaviour, but others will want a divorce, immediately! You might be feeling extremely angry and want to make that no-good cheater pay by going after him/her for everything they have. Well, it does not work like that in Canada.
Canada’s system of divorce under the federal Divorce Act, is a system of “no-fault divorce”. This means that the conduct of the spouses is not relevant to the divorce process and has no effect on the types of relief a spouse is entitled to, such as spousal support or the division of family assets. The courts will not take into account the reasons for the marriage breakdown when determining guardianship or parenting time, no matter how upset someone is about their spouse’s misbehaviour.
Sure, you can apply for a divorce on the grounds of adultery or cruelty, but this only means that the divorce is granted sooner or for reasons other than the one year requirement of living separate apart from each other. In my experience, clients do not want to spend the extra money required to prove the allegations of adultery or physical and mental cruelty, and just end up waiting for the one year requirement of living apart to have their divorce granted.
Trust me, it’s not that easy to prove adultery. The court requires evidence from the cheating spouse or the person they have been cheating with, admitting to the adultery. You don’t necessarily have to catch them in the act, but a mere suspicion is also not enough (BTW: a spouse cannot apply for divorce based on his or her own adultery) So, although the adultery can get you a divorce quicker if you are determined to prove the allegations, the courts still will not punish the cheating spouse by making them pay more than they are required to by the law!
Although the courts will not take into account the spouses misbehaviour when determining support and the division of assets, you do have other remedies if you have been a victim of abuse. You can sue your spouse in a civil suit, separate from your family case and seek damages for the abuse.
Our lawyers at Hart Legal have extensive experience helping guide people through their family law issues. We understand the emotions involved in a family law dispute and are dedicated to helping you resolve them. Contact one of our lawyers at our Vancouver, Victoria or Calgary office and set up a consultation.