The ground for divorce – the breakdown of the marriage

In Canada, you must tell the court why the marriage ended based on one of the following reasons (called the breakdown of the marriage):

  1. You have been living separate and apart for 1 year (you must be separated at the time you file and for 1 year by the time the divorce is granted)

  2. The other spouse has committed adultery, if you have not excused or forgiven the adultery

  3. The other spouse has treated you with physical or mental cruelty that has made living together intolerable.

Divorce in Canada is ‘no fault’ based on living 1 year separate and apart. If you choose to explain the breakdown of the marriage was because the other spouse committed adultery or treated you with physical and mental cruelty, it means that your divorce could be finalized before waiting the 1 year separation period. It does not automatically mean that you will ‘get more’ from the divorce, or that you will be given more money or rights because of your spouse’s behaviour. It also does not mean your spouse will be punished for having “abandoned” the marriage or for causing the separation. 

Most divorces in Nova Scotia are based on the spouses having lived separate and apart for 1 year. You can start the divorce process at any time after you separate.  However, the judge cannot make a divorce order until you have been living separately for 1 year.

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