What Does No-Fault Divorce Mean?

May 11, 2016
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While we’re used to seeing wild court battles on TV, divorce in real life often looks very different. This is largely because of no-fault divorce. Divorce isn’t always as dramatic as it is on TV, and it’s even possible to get a divorce outside the court room.

Knowing the available options is key to managing a divorce. The circumstances of the former couple in question make a big difference to how a divorce is handled. Here’s how no-fault divorce has changed the dynamics of divorce and how it could assist you or someone you know get divorced with minimal stress and fewer legal complications.

Then Versus Now: How Divorce Law in Canada Has Changed for the Better

In order to understand what no-fault divorce means and how it can help former partners separate, a short history lesson is helpful.

According to the Parliament of Canada, “Prior to 1968, there was no federal divorce law in Canada.” Provinces referenced English law, whereby husbands at that time could seek divorce based on adultery on the part of the wife, and wives could seek divorce from husbands based on “incestuous adultery, rape, sodomy, bestiality, bigamy, or adultery coupled with cruelty or desertion.” Some provinces made it so that both parties could seek a divorce based on adultery, but wives who committed adultery wouldn’t receive spousal support, and husbands wouldn’t receive it regardless.

In 1968, the idea of “marriage breakdown” as a no-fault justification for divorce was introduced, and the combination of fault and no-fault causes became the Divorce Act of 1985. These changes came into effect to recognize that an “offence” isn’t always necessary for a marriage to fall apart, and that relying on one or both parties being at fault could unnecessarily prolong divorce proceedings.

What Are Your Options Now?

There are distinct advantages to the no-fault option. As Douglas W. Allen states in the Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization, possible motives for introducing no-fault divorce into the legal system include “efforts to make the divorce process more honest and open” and “efforts to reduce judicial resources and perjury,” with Allen arguing for “efficiency” as the main motive. Now, no-fault divorce allows couples to choose to divorce without showing a specific offence as the culprit. This helps the divorcing parties focus more on resolution than blame, and it reduces the chances of long and costly court battles.

How Does it Work?

Marriage breakdown is the only grounds for divorce in Canada, but this covers both at-fault and no-fault situations. As the Department of Justice explains, you can prove a breakdown in your marriage has taken place if any of the following applies:

  1. You have been living apart for one year or more.
  2. Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you.
  3. Your spouse has committed adultery.

As a result, you can choose to approach your divorce in the way that suits your specific situation.

We Are Here to Help Your Family

Whether your case is at-fault or no-fault, we are here to help you on the path to a satisfactory resolution. We understand that divorce can have far-reaching effects, and we believe in doing everything we can to help your family through this challenging experience.

Galbraith Family Law is a certified Collaborative Practice, and has been named the top firm in Barrie multiple times. Our legal insights have also been featured in the Globe and Mail, as well as Lawyers Weekly.

Click here to contact us, or to schedule a consultation. Or you can call the local office listed at the top of the page.

About Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.