In Canada there is only one ground for divorce. The ground for divorce is the breakdown of marriage.
According to the Divorce Act, paragraph 8 (2) states that the “Breakdown of the marriage is established only if:
- the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding; or
- the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since the celebration of the marriage:
- committed adultery, or
- treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.”
The most common way to establish the breakdown of a marriage is to prove that the spouses have lived apart (separated) for at least one (1) year immediately before the divorce judgment is granted, and that the spouses lived apart at the time the proceedings began. For instance, if parties are using one year of separation to establish the breakdown of marriage, proceedings cannot begin until after spouses are already separated and it cannot be finalized until one (1) full year of separation. See Separation for more information on how to calculate the separation period.
From time to time, one of the parties may want to start the divorce proceedings immediately, without waiting the year from the date of separation. This can be done if adultery or cruelty has been established. Usually, raising one of these grounds to demonstrate the breakdown of marriage will cause more aggravation than it is worth. If one party simply decides to deny the allegation, an uncontested divorce may be converted into a contested divorce and it may take a longer period of time to finalize the divorce. It is a common practice to show the breakdown of a marriage by one year of separation.