08 February 2009

New Random Answers to Random Search Terms

I am able to review the search terms that lead people to my website. Every now and then, a search term is particularly unusual or suggests an answer that doesn't, and perhaps shouldn't, appear in the website. In this irregular feature, I will randomly reply to these search terms. New Random Answers will reappear at unpredictable intervals.

(Remember, the law that's being applied here is the law of British Columbia, Canada, and the laws of one jurisdiction are often very different from the laws of the next.)

>> is it adultery if you are separated

>> I have been charged with adultery now what BC law

>> dating allowed during marriage separation

These are among the most common search terms that lead people to my website. Lots of people, it appears, are worried about the legal status of their marriage and the consequences of new relationships.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. Adultery is not a criminal offence in Canada, and it's nothing you can be criminally "charged" for. What this user probably means is that his or her spouse claimed adultery as a ground of divorce in a divorce action. All right, so what does that mean?

Under the federal Divorce Act, there are three reasons why the court can make a divorce order: the couple have been separated for more than one year, one of spouses has committed adultery, or one spouse has treated the other with such cruelty that the marriage can't continue. Our system of divorce is also "no fault," which means that the reason for the divorce claim has no impact on how the court will deal with a support claim, the division of assets or the children's parenting arrangements. In other words, the reason for the divorce should have no impact on how the divorce unfolds, whether that reason is adultery or something else.

The definition of adultery is pretty broad. Essentially, it means having sex with someone other than your spouse, providing your spouse hasn't forgiven you for it. Technically, a new relationship after separation could count as adultery, but in general most people will claim a divorce for the reason that caused their separation nor for whatever may have happened after they separated.

Yes, it is technically adultery after you've separated, but so what? Since the court isn't allowed to handle your divorce any differently whether the divorce is based on separation or adultery, there shouldn't be any negative consequences in your divorce action, and adultery certainly doesn't attract any criminal sanctions. As a result, yes, dating is allowed after separation.