Watch Gene C. Colman’s presentation at the Sept. 2022 Men & Families Conference – “The Newly Expanded Definition of “Family Violence” in the Divorce Act” (of Canada)
Infidelity is a common trigger behind parties’ decision to divorce, whether it is the deceit behind the cheating or the realization that one or both people are unsatisfied with the union. If you are divorcing amid claims of infidelity, you should know how (and if) this allegation could change the process.
Elements that could be affected
Any divorce has the potential to be combative and contentious. However, if you or your ex feels angry or betrayed by cheating, it could be very difficult to work through divorce-related matters cooperatively. Under these circumstances, efforts to mediate can be unsuccessful, and parties can wind up battling in court.
Further, Canadians must establish the breakdown of a marriage to divorce. In many cases, people claim they have lived apart and separately for a year as grounds for divorce. However, adultery is also grounds for divorce. Claiming this means the divorce can happen in less than a year.
It is also worth noting that if infidelity, lies or other secrets affected your marriage, it could be crucial to work with your lawyer to ensure all the financial documentation and disclosures are complete and accurate.
It is not unusual for a scorned party to try and get back at an unfaithful party by withholding money or for someone with a dishonest history to be less than truthful in a divorce.
What won’t change?
Generally speaking, cheating does not affect:
- The division of property
- Equalization payments
- Spousal support
- Parenting time or decision-making responsibilities
Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, did the infidelity reach a level of being abusive? Did the cheating party spend an exceptional amount of money on extramarital relationships? Was there a clause in a marital contract addressing potential penalties or payments in light of adultery?
Under these circumstances, the courts could approve deviations from traditional solutions and calculations.
Getting a fair outcome in your divorce
Whether you were unfaithful during your marriage or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse was, you deserve fair treatment from the legal system and a fair outcome to divorce-related matters. Discussing these and other factors with your lawyer can help you navigate the process more easily.