Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Alberta?
When your reason for divorce is having an unfaithful spouse, it will feel that you were forced to divorce, and therefore, you should get more from the split- to make it fair. This was not your idea after all, and if they had not been unfaithful, you would not have been forced to end the marriage and embark on this thorny path of divorce. Why should they get half when it was their fault?
I had someone call me one time, telling me about his adulterous wife, and how he read online that he is entitled to all their matrimonial property and that he can file a court action against her to pay him Spousal Support in large sums. I don’t know where this person got his information but it’s definitely not from a Canadian source- I doubt if it’s even North American.
In Canada, adultery is simply a ground for divorce, one of three. In other words, it’s one of the ways you are allowed to file your divorce. What you request in your divorce (type of custody, support payments, or division of property) is not affected by your reason for divorce. Whether your ground for divorce is “living separate and apart” or “adultery”, what you are entitled to and what you request on your documents is unrelated to the ground you file based on.
However, Filing based on adultery does allow you to do one thing that you may see as an advantage. It allows you to file without waiting the one year separation. But your spouse has to agree to sign a court document wherein he or she states that the adultery took place on a specific date in a specific location (name of the person he did so with is not required). That’s right, even if you’re 100% sure and you have all the evidence to prove it, if they’re not willing to admit to it on a court document, you will not be able to file based on this ground.
TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE IT RIGHT
Sometimes I see the person who committed adultery struggle extensively. They are washed with shame and guilt that they voluntarily give up their entitlement in the divorce to their spouse. I remember a mediation I worked on wherein the spouses were in their late 60’s, and had a lot of investments but also a lot of debt. The husband has been involved in pornography for a long time, and the wife just found out. They were both telling me that they agree that the wife gets all the investments, and the husband gets all the debt. I looked at the husband, whom I can tell was just eager to give up everything so he puts his conscious at ease- so he hopefully starts to feel better. I asked him how he intended to transition into retirement, he said, “I’ll be fine.”. I knew he wouldn’t, not with the mounting debt and not a penny to fall back on. I felt that this man was making decisions under duress that he will likely regret as soon as the divorce is over, so I terminated the mediation.
Please know that I’m not undermining the emotional and mental pain the person who was cheated on experiences. But there is a healthy way to deal with a problem and an unhealthy one. Leaving the one who committed adultery high and dry is not a healthy solution. In fact, I believe that adultery in itself is a by-product of other bigger personal and marital problems (same as depression, high conflict, and emotional absence). But that’s for a different blog.
As much as it hurts, when you are ready to proceed with the divorce, just put the why and whom and for what aside, and focus on the how’s instead;
How are we going to each be financial independent of one another
How do I need to construct my divorce settlement in a way that eliminates more struggle and hurt
How are we going to communicate with one another to get this done
How do I take care of myself so I heal from the trauma I went through, and invite trust and compassion back into my life.
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