What are Grounds for Divorce in Canada? 

The federal Divorce Act states that a court may grant a divorce on the ground that there has been a breakdown of the marriage.  A breakdown of a marriage is established if:

  • the spouses have been living “separate and apart” for at least one year;
  • one of the spouses has committed adultery; or
  • one of the spouses has treated the other with physical or mental cruelty such that living together has become intolerable.

It is not necessary for spouses to have been living in separate residences in order to be considered to have been living “separate and apart.”  If the spouses are living together because it is not possible to live apart due to financial, child care or other issues, but they are not living together as a couple, they can still be considered to be living “separate and apart.”  Furthermore, attempts at reconciliation will not necessarily restart the one-year separation period unless the couple is back together for a total of more than 90 days within the one-year period.

It is not necessary to wait until a year has passed in order to apply for a divorce on the grounds of living “separate and apart.”  The application can occur at any point.  It will just not be finalized by the court until the one-year mark has been reached.

Our Family Lawyers Provide Strong Advocacy in Contested Divorces

In a contested divorce, the spouses do not agree on issues such as Division of Property, Child Custody and Visitation or spousal support.  Contested divorces require court intervention. 

Commencing or responding to an application in the Superior Court of Justice can be overwhelming.  Quite apart from all of the applicable legislation and case law, applications in Ontario are governed by the Family Law Rules.  There are a number of steps and hearings in a family law application including First Appearances, Case Conferences, Motions, Settlement Conferences and, ultimately, a Trial.  The vast majority of cases are settled well before reaching  the trial stage.

If you are facing a contested divorce, you require the assistance of a strong advocate.  The experienced litigators at Spiteri & Ursulak LLP are prepared to fearlessly assert your rights and protect your interests.

Collaborative Divorce/Common Law Separation

For many couples who are separating (both married and common law), a more collaborative approach is preferable.  The Collaborative Divorce/Separation model is much less adversarial than traditional litigation.  It is less expensive and involves the parties and their lawyers (and sometimes other professionals if it is deemed necessary) working together to achieve a resolution to all issues based on the parties’ own goals and needs.  Participants in this process are not bound by legislation or case law, and the act of working together to create resolution can have important beneficial impacts for their future relationship, particularly in co-parenting their children.  While the Collaborative Divorce/Separation model is different from other approaches in many respects, the most important is that both the parties and their lawyers are required to sign a binding agreement that, if the parties leave the collaborative process, they will have to retain new lawyers.  This both demonstrates and reinforces the parties’ commitment to working together to achieve a resolution.    

While our lawyers believe that Collaborative Divorce/Separation can be beneficial in many situations, they recognize it is not always appropriate.  Before recommending a particular course of action, we listen carefully to clients so we can provide them with solid advice regarding the best way to proceed.  For more information, please see our page on Collaborative Divorce/Common Law Separation.

Our Family Law Lawyers are Prepared to Protect your Interests in Divorce Proceedings in Ottawa and Toronto

Contact the experienced family law lawyers at Spiteri & Ursulak LLP at 613-563-1010 or info@sulaw.ca to find out how we help take some of the stress out of divorce proceedings.  We are ready to protect your interests and help you achieve the best possible outcome of your matter.