Westside Family Law

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How family law handles adultery in divorce

Of all the causes of divorce, perhaps the most salacious and indeed taboo is the question of adultery. In British Columbia, as elsewhere in Canada, adultery is grounds for divorce under family law. However, many people do not know the extent to which the details of an affair can influence a divorce proceeding -- and many are afraid to ask for fear of incriminating themselves. 

Under the federal Divorce Act, adultery is technically a valid reason to request a divorce, but there are several caveats. For instance, the duration of an affair does not have any bearing on a divorce settlement -- it could have been one ill-spent evening or years of secret rendezvous. However, the act had to take place or have begun prior to the petition for divorce.

Many people often wonder about the extent of "proof" required to make a valid petition on the grounds of adultery. Contrary to popular belief, concrete evidence in the form of film or photographs is not necessary to proceed with a petition. However, the court must be satisfied that a preponderance of evidence exists, even if that evidence is not direct. A mere suspicion is not sufficient for a court to accept the petition.

Adultery is one of the most crushing emotional events that can be experienced by a married couple, which is why family law treats it as valid grounds for divorce. However, as in all divorce cases, British Columbia residents could benefit from meeting with an experienced divorce attorney to discuss the strategy best used to file a petition on these grounds. Thankfully, a great deal of this support is available throughout the province.  

Source: The Huffington Post, "How Adultery Affects Divorce: 5 Questions You Were Afraid To Ask", Russell Alexander, June 2, 2017

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