Dennis Quaid "Breaking Away" from Kimberly Buffington-Quaid

On Friday March 9, 2012, People.com reported that after approximately eight years of marriage, Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly Buffington-Quaid, have split.

According to court papers obtained, it was Kimberly Buffington-Quaid who filed for divorce stating that things "have become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities."

Is this viable ground for divorce? In Ontario, could an individual obtain a divorce on the basis of "things becoming insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities"? It would appear not.
In Ontario, and pursuant to the Divorce Act, an individual may obtain a divorce judgement once there has been a breakdown in the marriage. Breakdown of a marriage, in Ontario, consists of three grounds, namely:

  1. One year separation;
  2. Adultery; and
  3. Cruelty.

One year of separation is the most commonly used ground for divorce. Essentially, a couple will become eligible for a divorce once they have lived separate and apart for a period of no less than 12 months with no prospect of resumed cohabitation or reconciliation. The law in Ontario does give a couple a chance to try to work things out without affecting the running of the clock during the one year separation period.

However, if the couple resumes cohabitation, or if their attempt at reconciliation exceeds 90 days, then the clock will stop and they will have to re-start the one year separation period.

The second ground for divorce is adultery. Therefore, if an individual is a victim of adultery he or she may bring an application citing adultery and if he or she is able to satisfy the court that his or her spouse has committed adultery, then the court has the authority to grant an immediate divorce and the one year separation period may be waived.

However, separating couples should be aware of the fact that satisfying the court that there has been adultery is difficult, the individual claiming adultery must prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the adulterer had:

  1. The opportunity for the commission of adultery; and
  2. An inclination to commit adultery. When trying to prove this, there must be evidence of a relationship that is more intimate than a warm friendship with a person of the opposite sex.

The final ground for divorce is cruelty. If an individual is able to show that he or she was treated cruelly during the marriage, then an immediate divorce may be granted and the one year separation period may be waived.
In order for cruelty to be found, a spouse, through his or her conduct, must have caused wanton, malicious or unnecessary infliction of pain or suffering upon the body, the feelings or emotions of the other. In addition, the conduct complained of must be of a grave and weighty nature and not insignificant.

More specifically, it cannot merely be the incompatibility of temperament between the spouses, but rather it must render the continued cohabitation of the spouses intolerable and impossible.
Therefore, based on the above, it would appear that Kimberly's claim that things "have become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities" would not satisfy the test of cruelty in Ontario and therefore would not make her eligible for an immediate divorce.

As such, and if the divorce proceedings were in Ontario, it appears that her only recourse would be that she would have to satisfy the requisite one year separation period.

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