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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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Can I get a divorce?

In Canada, you do not have to show that your partner did something wrong to get a divorce. You only have to show that the marriage has broken down. There are 3 ways to prove this:

  • You and your partner lived separate and apart for one year.
  • Your partner committed adultery. This means that they cheated on you with another person. Only the person who was cheated on can apply for divorce based on adultery.
  • Your partner was so physically or mentally cruel to you that you cannot tolerate living with them anymore.

One-year separation period

A one-year separation is the most common basis for divorce. When that happens, your partner does not have to agree to a divorce or sign anything for you to get a divorce. You can apply right after you separate, but you cannot get the divorce until one year has passed.

You can live with your partner again for up to 90 days within this year if you are trying to reconcile and get back together. If you and your partner are not able to get back together, it won't affect the one-year separation period. You can do this before or after you start the court application for a divorce.

You can continue living in the same house during the separation, as long as you can show that you are not acting as a couple. This includes not sleeping together. It also includes many other things you should now do separately. These include things like grocery shopping, eating, socializing, doing laundry, and caring for the children.

Other considerations

If you base your application for divorce on cruelty or adultery, you must prove it. This can be difficult and expensive.

If you have children, you must make arrangements for child support before a judge will finalize your divorce. A family lawyer can help you. They can also help you deal with decision-making responsibility and dividing the family property.

If you were married in another province or country, you can still apply for a divorce in Ontario. You or your partner must have lived in Ontario for at least one year right before you apply.