We're Not Just Talking about Practice Anymore

In the day and age of shows like Basketball Wives and social media as far-reaching as Twitter, it is pretty hard for athletes and celebrities to keep their marital transgressions quiet. For former NBA-megastar Allen Iverson, having a public profile has never been so embarrassing - or controversial.

According to TMZ.com, his soon-to-be ex-wife Tawanna has filed for divorce, and she has also filed documents with the Court requesting an Order that Mr. Iverson be forced to submit a list of names of all the women he had affairs with during their relationship, which lasted approximately 10 years.

Hollywood v reality (not reality TV)

Such a request would lead you to believe that a list of this nature would be quite lengthy. We certainly aren't talking about one or two affairs with women.

As titillating as such a list of women might be, in Ontario, the issue a Judge faces when presented with such a request in a Family Law matter is determining what relevance, if any, such disclosure would have on any of the outstanding issues between the parties (for example: custody and access, the equalization of net family property, etc.).

Often, separating couples in a divorce proceeding have a difficult time separating what essentially amount to personal issues from those issues that are actually relevant in a legal context. Obviously it can be devastating if you are married to someone for 10 years and you find out that they weren't faithful.

In Ontario, adultery is, technically, one of the grounds for Divorce; however it is rarely listed as such on anybody's Application for Divorce. It is far more common, and efficient, to seek an Order for Divorce on the ground that you and the Respondent have been "living separate and apart with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation" for at least one year.

Attempted reconciliation affects date of separation

The problem Tawanna appears to have run into in this regard is that her initial filing date was March 2010, but during a brief period of reconciliation, she withdrew her Divorce Application and did not re-file until June of 2011. It appears that to expedite the divorce process, she has changed the grounds for divorce.

Another interesting wrinkle in the situation, if it were being heard by a Judge in Ontario, is that there are also certain bars to Divorce in Ontario, including the condonation of adultery.

Depending on your perspective, the language used in some of Tawanna's materials suggests that either a) she was fully aware of the adulterous behaviour of Mr. Iverson and did not care, or b) that she only found out about it during the reconciliation attempt and then determined it was the appropriate ground for divorce to argue.

The language I refer to, excerpted from TMZ.com, is as follows:

Before: "Cheating in the marriage has never been an issue."

After: "Give the name and telephone number of every person other than your spouse whom you have had sexual relations and/or intimate physical contact from the date of the marriage to the date of the trial."

It is unclear what Tawanna is trying to achieve and whether or not Mr. Iverson's off-court antics will impact his position in a negative way.

Case law in Ontario suggests that unless his adulterous behaviour affects his ability to act as a parent, the access time he is afforded with his children will not be reduced.

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