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The Famous Canadian country signer separated from her husband in 2008 after 14 years of marriage because, according to sources, he cheated on her. According to the media, Twain is now dating Frederic Thiebaud, the ex-husband of Marie Ann Thiebaud, the woman Twain's husband had the affair with, who was also her friend. The couple has a 9 year old son together. The divorce was filed and finalized in Switzerland this week.

What is the impact of adultery when parties wish to divorce in Ontario?

In Ontario and pursuant to the Divorce Act (the Act), a court may on application by either spouse, grant a divorce to the spouse or spouses on the ground that there has been a breakdown of their marriage.

A breakdown of a marriage is established only if:

  1. the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding; or
  2. the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has since the celebration of the marriage;
    1. committed adultery or
    2. treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.

Here, Twain could bring an Application for divorce based on the one year separation period because the parties separated in 2008 or alternatively, she may bring the application under part i) (adultery) as her husband cheated on her. If Twain wanted the divorce to take effect immediately, she would have to bring the application claiming adultery. However, the evidentiary burden to prove same would of course be higher then demonstrating that you have been separated for one year.

If Twain brought the Application claiming adultery she would not be required to name the other party, Marie Ann Thiebaud, however, she does have the option of making that person a party to the proceeding.

It appears that with the new change in the Act that now permits parties to separate after one year instead of three years (as it was prior to the changes introduced by the 1985 Divorce Act), more parties prefer to separate by making a claim for the no fault grounds for divorce and simply waiting for one year.