Adultery and Divorce: What to Know About It in Canada

Adultery and Divorce: What to Know About It in Canada

Adultery is a sensitive and controversial topic, and when it comes to divorce, it can have significant implications for both parties involved. In Canada, the federal government is responsible for divorce laws, and these laws are largely based on the Divorce Act. This act allows for divorce on the grounds of adultery, but what does that mean for the individuals involved? Is adultery a crime in Canada? How does it affect the divorce process and the division of assets? Let’s talk about that and more today:

Is Adultery a Crime in Canada?

In Canada, adultery is not considered a criminal offense under the Criminal Code. However, it is recognized as a ground for divorce under the Divorce Act. It is important to note that in order to obtain a divorce on the grounds of adultery, the spouse making a claim must provide evidence of the infidelity. This can be a challenging task, as it often requires hiring a private investigator or obtaining concrete proof such as text messages, emails, or photographs.

How Does Adultery Affect the Divorce Process?

When filing for divorce in Canada, there are three main grounds for divorce: separation for at least one year, adultery, and physical or mental cruelty. If a spouse chooses to file for divorce based on adultery, they must provide evidence of the infidelity, as mentioned earlier.

Once the evidence of adultery is presented in court and accepted, the divorce can be granted relatively quickly compared to divorces based on a one-year separation or cruelty. This is because there is no mandatory waiting period for divorces based on adultery. However, it is important to note that the spouse accused of adultery can contest the claim, which can lead to a more prolonged and contentious divorce process.

How Does Adultery Affect the Division of Assets and Support?

In Canada, the division of assets and spousal support in a divorce is primarily based on the concept of equalization. This means that both spouses are entitled to an equal share of the marital assets, regardless of who earned more or who was responsible for the marriage breakdown.

However, there are some instances where adultery may indirectly affect the division of assets and spousal support. For example, if the spouse who committed adultery spent a significant amount of marital funds on their extramarital affair (e.g., lavish gifts, vacations, or supporting a lover financially), the court may adjust the equalization process to account for this dissipation of assets.

Regarding spousal support, Canadian courts generally do not consider adultery as a factor in determining the amount or duration of support. However, if the adulterous spouse’s actions led to financial consequences for the other spouse, the court may consider this when determining spousal support.

What about Custody and Access to Children?

The best interests of the children are the primary concern when determining custody and access arrangements during a divorce. Adultery, in and of itself, does not generally impact custody and access decisions. However, suppose the adulterous spouse’s actions put the children at risk, such as exposing them to inappropriate situations or neglecting their needs. In that case, the court may include this in the list of factors when deciding on custody and access to children.


All in all, although adultery is not considered a criminal offense in Canada, it can greatly impact divorce cases. Adultery is a valid reason for divorce under the Divorce Act, and if established, it can speed up the divorce procedure. In any case, individuals dealing with a divorce caused by adultery should seek advice from a family law lawyer to gain a better understanding of their rights and choices during this challenging period.

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Disclaimer – The information contained herein is of a general nature. It is not intended to be legal advice and it is not intended to address the exact circumstances of any particular individual or entity. You should not rely on or act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice and without a thorough examination of your particular situation.