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 October 7, 2021, the parties in a family law case must attest to whether or not they are subject to:

•    A civil protection order under section 509 of the Code of Civil Procedure or a request related to such an order;
•    An order, application, agreement or decision related to youth protection;
•    An order, indictment, undertaking or recognizance related to a criminal matter.

Parties who fall into any of the above situations must file a notice with the court office and, if applicable, attach documentary evidence. The same applies if the situation changes in the course of proceedings.

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