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Divorce in Ontario excludes compensation for adultery

There is no question that the loss of trust in any relationship leads to feelings ranging from sadness and anger to a deep sense of betrayal. What once was the mainstay of a marriage is gone forever, leaving one or both partners bereft of that element so crucial to maintaining ongoing intimacy. Bitterness may overwhelm a partner in his or her pursuit of separation and divorce and cloud their understanding of the legal perception of divorce in Ontario.

Retribution has no place in Ontario law courts, which take little account of egregious behaviour unless it has impacted the shared family assets. In a case recently adjudicated, even the Appeals Court made clear that the spouse's adulterous affair and salacious activities had no bearing on the litigation. The laws governing separation and divorce in Ontario do not allow for a disproportionate distribution of assets held in common based on bad behaviour alone. 

A mother of two children filed for divorce after 29 years of marriage and only later discovered evidence of her spouse's long-time affair and disturbing internet activities. Embittered and humiliated, she amended her application from a 50-50 split of assets to one requiring the investigation of how her husband's sexual misconduct might have reduced the net family assets. It must have come as a shock to hear that the burden of proof was hers.

The Family Law Act requires and weighs numerous factors in determining whether to override the legally embedded 50-50 split of family assets. The allegedly erring spouse must be shown to have committed unconscionable acts leading to negative financial repercussions. Only in cases where such proof has been unimpeachably established may a judge award a higher financial entitlement to the aggrieved spouse. It was not the case here. Those faced with similar situations often seek advice from an Ontario law firm with resources in place to assist dispute resolution as well as full financial discovery. 

Source: Mandel | Ontario | News, "In Ontario divorces, heartache doesn't mean more money", Michele Mandel, Accessed on July 29, 2017

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