The infamous White House party crashers, Tareq Salahi and Michaele Salahi, will not be crashing any more parties together. Tareq Salahi has filed for divorce from his wife according to reports in both People.com and TMZ.com. The filing was precipitated by Michaele's extramarital affair with Neal Schon, the guitarist for the award-winning group Journey. Tareq finally made the decision to file for divorce from his estranged spouse once he realized that she had run away to be with her paramour.
In his Complaint for Divorce, Tareq claimed adultery and abandonment as the grounds for divorce. From paragraphs ten to sixteen of said Complaint for Divorce, Tareq states that Michaele's paramour sent an e-mail to him containing obscene pictures of himself. In addition, he states that Michaele continually exposed their friends and acquaintances to her adulterous relationship and flaunted it within the community, which caused him to suffer great harm, humiliation and embarrassment. Lastly, Tareq claims that due to the abandonment of the marriage and the adultery by Michaele, he has suffered both emotional and physical harm.
In Ontario, in order to file for divorce, Tareq would look to the Divorce Act under s. 8 to determine when and whether a court would grant him a divorce. Under said section the following is stipulated:
8.(1) A court of competent jurisdiction may, on application by either or both spouses, grant a divorce to the spouse or spouses on the ground that there has been a breakdown of their marriage.
Breakdown of marriage
(2) Breakdown of a marriage is established only if
(a) 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
(b) the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since celebration of the marriage,
(i) committed adultery, or
(ii) treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.
Pursuant to this section of the Divorce Act, if Tareq was to bring an Application for divorce in Ontario, he would have to either wait until his one-year separation period elapsed or, in order to accelerate the granting of a divorce Order, he could make a claim for adultery or cruelty.
Case law stipulates that in order for a claim under s. 8(2)(b)(i) to be successful, Tareq would have to prove that he did not condone the adultery in any way.
However, could Tareq also bring a claim under s.8(2)(b)(ii) for cruelty?
Case law stipulates that the conduct required to establish cruelty must be of a grave and weighty nature and cannot be conduct that simply indicates incompatibility between spouses. In addition, the effect of the conduct on the affected spouse is a relevant consideration. Lastly, it must render the continued cohabitation of the spouses intolerable.
Does Tareq have a viable claim for cruelty? Probably not. Both cruelty and adultery present incredibly high thresholds for divorcing spouses to meet when attempting to evade the requisite one-year period of separation. However, if they are successful, they can obtain an Order for divorce almost immediately. The statements contained in the above mentioned paragraphs ten to sixteen of Tareq's Complaint for Divorce are likely not enough to meet the high threshold for cruelty.
Lawyers in Ontario hardly ever use cruelty or adultery as grounds for divorce because it is incredibly time consuming to prove. As such, it is generally faster to just wait for the requisite one-year period. Also, claiming cruelty or adultery usually leads to animosity between the parties, which is not helpful when trying to reach a quick resolution of all the issues in dispute. It is usually better to focus on resolving the issues at hand than to focus on the adultery or poor conduct of the other party.