In Canada, the only way for a married couple to complete dissolve the bonds of marriage is through a divorce. Divorce is granted either on the terms agreed by the spouses or following a trial before a judge.

The three grounds for divorce

Under the federal Divorce Act, a divorce may be granted following the breakdown of a marriage. A marriage is deemed to have broken down when:

  • the spouses have lived apart for at least one year, and are living apart when the judgement for divorce is pronounced;
  • one of the spouses applies for divorce because the other spouse has been unfaithful (has committed adultery);
  • the spouse applying for divorce has been treated by the other spouses with physical or mental cruelty of a kind that makes continued cohabitation intolerable.

Who can apply for divorce?

After a couple has been separated for at least one year, one of the spouses can apply for divorce, even if the other spouse does not agree. 

However, in applications based on adultery or physical or mental cruelty, only the alleged victim may apply for a divorce. 

Regulation to amend the Regulation of the Superior Court of Québec in family matters 

Since 13 June 2019, the parties in a family law case must attest to whether or not they are subject to conditions regarding another party or their child under an order, undertaking or recognizance provided for in the Criminal Code. Any party subject to such conditions must provide the particulars in a notice filed with the court office and provide evidence of those conditions; the same applies if the conditions are replaced, varied or lifted in the course of proceedings.

The new rules stem from the Government Action Plan on Domestic Violence, in which the MJQ made an undertaking to study the possibility of amending the Regulation of the Superior Court of Québec in family matters.


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