9021 Oh No! Separation and Living Arrangements Outside the Hills

Jennie Garth's husband David Abrams has filed for divorce after almost three years of marriage. Garth is best known for playing Kelly Taylor on the popular drama Beverly Hills 90210. Abrams cited irreconcilable differences in his filing for divorce on April 6, 2018 with the date of separation listed as August 29, 2017.

Grounds for Divorce Under Ontario Family Law

Ontario is what is known as a "no-fault" jurisdiction, which means that a person does not have to point to any specific behavior or act of their partner to get a divorce. Instead, under the Divorce Act the person seeking a divorce must only establish a "breakdown" of the marriage. Most commonly, a breakdown of the marriage is established when the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately before initiating the divorce proceedings.

But what if one spouse isn't a famous actor and can't afford to move out?

Not to worry, under the Divorce Act all that is required is that the spouses live apart and that either of them have the intention to live separate and apart. Living apart is not limited to living in physically different places but may refer to living in the same place while leading separate lives. If one spouse cannot afford to move out, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot meet the requirements for living separate and apart. What is required is both (1) a physical separation and (2) a withdrawal by one or both of the spouses from the marriage with the intent of ending it.

When separated spouses are living under the same roof, there must be a clear indication that they are indeed separated. A Court may examine all the circumstances of the living arrangement, including things like:

  • whether the spouses live in separate bedrooms or sections of the house;
  • whether the spouses engage in sexual relations;
  • whether the spouses share meals, chores, or facilities (such as watching television together); and
  • whether there are any valid reasons for the spouses to live under the same roof.

So long as the person seeking the divorce can show that the actual state of the marriage was, for all intents and purposes, at an end, a Court may still find that the spouses were living separately and apart under the same roof.