Divorce is a painful and complicated process, and it is even more so when infidelity is the leading cause. In Edmonton, Alberta, understanding the legal aspects of infidelity and its effect on the divorce process can help affected parties navigate the complexity of their situation. This article will elucidate how infidelity, often a deeply personal and emotional issue, is treated in the legal arena, as explained by experienced divorce lawyers in Edmonton.
Infidelity and The Divorce Act
In Canada, the Divorce Act governs the reasons or grounds for which a divorce can be granted. Prior to changes in legislation, spouses needed to prove fault such as adultery or cruelty to be granted a divorce. However, the changes in 1968 introduced the concept of ‘no-fault’ divorce, which is currently predominant across Canada, including Edmonton, Alberta. Today, the primary ground for divorce is the breakdown of a marriage, which can be demonstrated in three ways: separation for one year, adultery, or mental or physical cruelty.
Adultery, including infidelity, is clearly mentioned in the Divorce Act as a ground for divorce. However, it’s important to note that proving adultery can be emotionally taxing and often leads to a more contentious and expensive divorce process. Most lawyers, hence, advise clients to use the ‘separation for one year’ ground for a smoother process unless there are compelling reasons to prove infidelity.
Infidelity and Property Division
In the context of Edmonton, Alberta, the Matrimonial Property Act governs the division of property upon the dissolution of a marriage. According to this act, the court divides all matrimonial property equitably between both parties. The legislation identifies matrimonial property as all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title.
A crucial aspect to understand is that, unlike some jurisdictions, Alberta operates under a ‘no-fault’ property division system. This means that the reason for the breakdown of the marriage, including infidelity, is not considered when dividing matrimonial property. Therefore, a spouse who was unfaithful during the marriage does not stand to lose more in the division of property on account of their infidelity.
Infidelity and Spousal Support
When it comes to spousal support or alimony, the Divorce Act stipulates that the amount and duration of spousal support depend on factors like the financial means and needs of both parties, their roles during the marriage, the effect of those roles on their current financial situations, and the time needed for the spouse receiving support to become self-sufficient.
However, the Act is clear that misconduct, including infidelity, is not a consideration in deciding spousal support. This reflects the ‘no-fault’ approach of Canadian divorce law. As such, an unfaithful spouse cannot be penalized by an increased amount or duration of spousal support or conversely, the innocent party cannot be rewarded with higher support.
Infidelity and Child Custody
In terms of child custody and access rights, the primary consideration is always the best interests of the child. The Divorce Act emphasizes that the past conduct of a parent is not a relevant consideration unless it pertains to their ability to parent the child. Consequently, infidelity is not usually a factor in determining child custody unless it directly impacts the parent’s ability to care for the child.
However, if a parent’s infidelity led to situations that may harm the child—such as exposing the child to inappropriate situations or people—this could potentially influence custody decisions.
While infidelity can cause significant emotional distress and is a common reason for marriage breakdown, its legal significance in a divorce proceeding is limited in Edmonton, Alberta. With a ‘no-fault’ approach prevailing in the Canadian legal system, infidelity typically does not affect property division, spousal support, or child custody.
Navigating the complex landscape of divorce law can be challenging and emotionally draining, especially in the aftermath of infidelity. Therefore, it is recommended to seek advice from experienced divorce lawyers who can provide guidance based on the specifics of your case. Remember, every case is unique, and understanding the legal intricacies can significantly impact the outcome of a divorce proceeding.