What are the grounds for divorce in Alberta?

What are the grounds for divorce in Alberta?

While the grounds for divorce in Alberta are stipulated by the Divorce Act – there are other statutes that also oversee divorce proceedings procedurally and give guidance on things such as child custody, child support, division of assets, spousal support and more. Every separation or divorce situation is very different from one another and if you are considering filing for divorce – we recommend you speak with an Edmonton divorce lawyer who can help you navigate the legal complexities surrounding divorces in Alberta and ensure that your rights are protected. Hiring a divorce lawyer to oversee your divorce not only protects your interests and legal rights – it can also help expedite the resolution of differences and contested issues surrounding your divorce. It is usually in the best interest of all parties to ensure a quick resolve to your divorce instead of letting it drag out unnecessarily – especially if there are children involved.

Currently there are 3 statues that govern divorces in Alberta. These include:

  1. Federal Divorce Act: Covers divorce proceedings, spousal support, child custody and child support. The Federal Divorce Act ensures divorce proceedings are administered equally across provinces and that the jurisdiction to deal with a petition for divorce is done at the provincial level.
  2. Alberta Family Law Act: Contains core principles of provincial family law. This statute applies to non-divorce situations such as child custody or determining who are the guardians of the child.
  3. Matrimonial Property Act: Oversees the division of assets when couples are divorcing or terminating their relationship.

According to the Divorce Act here are the 3 legally accepted grounds for divorce.

  1. Separation: If you and your spouse have been separated for more than one year (uninterrupted) you can file for divorce. In Alberta, if your marriage is broken down and you are still living under the same roof yet sleeping in separate rooms – the law will view you as separated in these circumstances. In order for the separation to be valid – there must be no sexual relations during the period of separation between the separating couple and essentially both parties must live as independently as possible if they are continuing to live under the same roof. The divorce proceedings can be triggered at anytime after separation and the judge will grant divorce after 12 months of separation has been completed. During the separation period – couples may opt to sign a separation agreement to matters related to custody of children, access or visitation rights of parents, financial support for children/dependant spouse and the division of matrimonial property.
  2. Adultery: If your spouse has committed adultery, you must establish a high probability that adultery has occurred. In the petition for divorce – you must swear that there is no collusion between the two spouses in order to validate that it is in fact the truth. If adultery is denied, examination for discovery and court appearances are other ways to prove adultery and this is something a divorce lawyer can help you with. Adultery cannot be used to fast-track divorces and does present some challenges when citing this as a reason for divorce. We encourage you to speak with a divorce lawyer if you can relate to this situation so you are advised of your legal rights and what to expect during the divorce proceedings.
  3. Cruelty: If your spouse has treated you with intolerable mental or physical cruelty, you may be eligible for divorce. In this type of situation, the courts interpret cruelty as repeated instances of unnecessary physical or emotional pain rendering in impossible continual cohabitation. For the courts to accept cruelty as a cause for divorce – the courts must be convinced that cruelty was of a grave and weighty nature and not due to temperament between the parties or trivial incompatibilities. In a situation like this we encourage you to seek legal counsel to ensure that your best interests and rights are prioritized during divorce proceedings.

Divorces are never easy on couples and can be very stressful, emotionally charged and financially taxing. The emotional and mental effects can be felt by all parties – especially if children are involved, extending stress to them as well. Hiring a divorce lawyer during your divorce proceedings come with many benefits especially if children are involved as they can help secure a child specialist to help them cope with the rigors of divorce.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our divorce lawyers have helped clients across Alberta with their legal needs surrounding separations, divorce, division of assets, child custody and spousal support issues. We recommend you contact our office today for a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers if you are planning on separating or getting a divorce. Call us today at 587-410-2500. We are located in the Mayfield Business Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

This blog provides only general information on divorce issues within the province of Alberta. This blog is not intended to act as legal advice. If you have a legal question or require legal assistance, please contact one of our family lawyers in Alberta to get advice on your specific circumstances.

Grounds for Divorce: What You Should Know

Grounds for Divorce

Before you file for divorce there's some things you need to know, starting with what does and does not qualify as grounds for divorce. Learn more here.

If you're considering getting a divorce, then you've probably already thought about the emotional toll the process is likely to take on you.

You may deal with stress, difficulty sleeping, and even unexpected health issues like a lowered immune system. Perhaps you've already found a place to stay for a while, have planned out the conversation you'll have with your kids, and have booked an appointment with a therapist.

But before you do anything more, make sure that you're aware of what is and is not actually grounds for divorce in Canada.

While knowing about the grounds for divorce may or may not influence your decision to leave your partner, it will ensure that the process is as smooth as humanly possible.

Read on to learn the information that will help you to keep your sanity and dignity in check, and your finances, property, and children protected.

The Three Main Grounds For Divorce In Canada

About 40% of all Canadian marriages end in divorce. And while the reasons and individual stories behind those divorces are no doubt very different, we're willing to bet that many of them occurred because of some of the same main reasons and differences.

Likely, they happened because of adultery, cruelty (we'll get specific on that definition in a moment) or because a period of separation has been completed.

Let's take a look at the three main ways to get a divorce in greater detail now.

1. A One Year Separation

Have you and your partner already been separated for one year? Do you plan to live "separate lives" for at least one year, and are you willing to wait for one year before your divorce can be officially finalized?

If so, then this separation, also called a "No Fault Divorce," will likely be the option you use when it comes to grounds for divorce in Canada.

What you'll need to focus on here is getting the required proof that you and your former partner have truly been living "separate lives" for one year. Most often, this is proven to the courts by showing them proof that the two of you no longer live under the same roof.

It's the most uncomplicated way to do it, and it's often helpful when you want to avoid having to start your one year separation period from the day you filed for divorce. It's also the most affordable option.

However, sometimes, you may not be able to move into separate homes, whether because of financial limitations or because you don't want to cause undue emotional damage to your children.

You'll need to show that you have different social circles, don't eat your meals together or split grocery bills, don't cook or do laundry for each other, have separate rooms, and more.

In this case, you should work with a legal professional to help you make your case to the courts. This is also helpful if you've started living apart prior to the date you actually filed for divorce.

2. Mental Or Physical Cruelty

While certainly not the most pleasant option when it comes to grounds for divorce, sometimes, you'll be forced to prove that your partner inflicted physical or mental abuse on you.

This is part of what's called a "For Fault Divorce."

This will be granted if you and your lawyer -- which we certainly recommend you have if you're electing to use this option -- can prove this cruelty.

If your spouse physically hit or beat you, hurt you in another physical way (such as burning, etc.) or sexually abused you, you certainly have grounds for divorce.

But mental cruelty also plays a here, and it's much more of a grey area and at times, more difficult to prove.

It can include things like having an affair, (a more detailed form of cruelty we'll cover in a moment) humiliation, threats to your life or the lives of your family members, or simply poor treatment.

You will also need to show that the actions of your former partner made it "intolerable" for you to stay in the marriage. The judge will look at the impact the abuse had on you, how long it went on, how frequently the cruelty/abuse happened, and more.

3. Adultery

Adultery, or the act of having an affair, is also a way to get a divorce in Canada. As with cruelty, it falls under the umbrella of a "For Fault Divorce."

Keep in mind that there are fairly specific definitions of what is and isn't adultery in the eyes of a law. If your partner at the time met with someone else without telling you, you might be annoyed -- but you can't get a divorce without proving there's been sexual infidelity.

Also, only the person that was cheated on can use this as a grounds for divorce -- not the person doing the actual cheating. Finally, be aware that if you've already forgiven your spouse for an old infidelity, you won't be able to dredge it up again in court.

Need A Lawyer To Help You Prove Grounds For Divorce?

Thanks to this post, you now know the grounds for divorce in Canada. You've also seen that, regardless of which option you'll be pursuing, it's important that you have the legal help that you need throughout the process.

That's where we come in.

We're experts in divorce and family law, and our lawyers are compassionate, dedicated, and determined to give you the outcome you want. Read our testimonials to learn more about some of the people we've helped.

We're also able to help you with probate and wills, real estate, corporate commercial law, and much more.

No matter what sort of a situation you're in, there's no reason to stay in it for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

Get in touch with us today to have us on your side.