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Separation and divorce may follow discovery of adultery

Applying for divorce in Ontario requires at least one of three elements stipulated by Canadian law. The spouses must be living separately for a year or more, there is a history of physical or mental abuse or one spouse has committed adultery. Adulterous affairs often lead to separation and divorce, but the law is clear about what counts as adultery and what does not.

For example, the Divorce Act states that the affair must include physical contact with someone other than a spouse. In other words, internet relationships, phone sex and emotional affairs may not form the foundation of a divorce. Instead, spouses in such situations may be encouraged to work toward a resolution to their problems. However, if there is a physical relationship, it need only occur once for the other spouse to have grounds to file for divorce.

Someone suspecting a spouse of committing adultery must provide the court with a preponderance of evidence that the affair occurred. This evidence does not need to be photographs of the act or catching a spouse with someone else, but it must be something beyond a suspicion that a spouse has been or is being unfaithful. A spouse may also admit to having an affair, and this would count as sufficient evidence in most courtrooms.

Separation and divorce are not taken lightly in Ontario, and the court prefers spouses to seek resolutions rather than placing blame. Reaching the final step of divorce comes only after other areas of conflict resolution have been exhausted and terms for moving forward have been established. Many who have decided to end their marriages prefer to do so with dignity and respect, and they may seek professionals who can help them through the process.

Source:, "How Adultery Affects Divorce: 5 Questions You Were Afraid To Ask", Russell Alexander, Accessed on July 1, 2017

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