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Should I provide the court with a reason for my divorce?

When filing your divorce papers you must select a ground for divorce, one of which is separation for more than one year. If you do not wish to provide a reason for your divorce you may simply wait one year after separation and then file the necessary paperwork.

If you want to get divorced before the one year period has expired you must provide a reason such as that your spouse has engaged in cruelty or adultery. However, it is rarely a good idea for an applicant to choose one of these options if they are looking to receive as smooth and easy a divorce as possible. There is a very good reason that separation is the most common grounds for divorce – it is easy to prove, typically non-contentious and the grounds for divorce is rarely considered when adjudicating other areas of your divorce claim. On the other hand, when a party alleges Adultery or Cruelty, that party must prove their claim and the offending party is far less likely to assist. Interestingly, adultery under the Divorce Act has typically been interpreted to mean a physical relationship, so proof of phone sex (texts) or internet sex (facebook/gmail) will not suffice.

Choosing adultery or cruelty as grounds for divorce not only results in increased legal costs but also increased emotional damage and conflict between the parties. This is especially undesirable where children are involved. It would not be far-fetched to suggest a person rarely benefits from pursuing divorce on these grounds unless they are pursuing an aggressive court strategy involving dragging their spouse’s name through the dirt.