The Canadian constitution provides that the federal government has jurisdiction with regard to power over marriage and divorce, though there is some overlap with provincial jurisdictions with respect to various rules flowing from marriage (such as rules regarding the celebration of marriage) and divorce (such as partition of family property).

In 1968, the Divorce Act was passed by the federal government to harmonize the patch-work of divorce laws across Canada and better reflect the federal government’s constitutional jurisdiction over matters of marriage and divorce. It expanded the legal reasons for divorce from adultery to include physical and mental cruelty, desertion and separation for three years.

In 1986, a new Divorce Act was created to further modernize its provisions, such as reducing the separation period to one year.

Since then, it has been amended many times to further meet the increasingly diverse needs of Canadians. Such key amendments include providing protections for spouses in religious marriages in 1990; dispositions encouraging gender parity and shared custody among parents in 2002; and the inclusion of same-sex marriage in 2005 (something our firm is proud to have played a role in!).