It’s hard to avoid the media coverage on the scandal surrounding Bill Cosby, and the allegations of sexual impropriety by numerous women who are coming forward to claim that he drugged and raped them during incidents spanning three decades.
While the unrelenting focus has been on Bill Cosby himself, there has been relatively little attention paid to his wife Camille, to whom he has been married for 50 years. At present, Camille Cosby has silently stood by her husband despite the mounting number of accusations, but the entire sordid scenario (if proven) gives rise to an important question: even leaving aside any criminal ramifications, is this kind of adulterous conduct legal grounds for divorce?
In Canada, the question is answered by an unequivocal “Yes”: Under the federal Divorce Act, a divorce may be granted where “the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has committed adultery”. (And in this regard, note that a spouse cannot apply for a divorce based on his or her own adultery).
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That legislation provides other grounds for divorce as well, all centered around the concept of a “breakdown of a marriage”. As mentioned, this can be established by showing one spouse has been adulterous; however it can be based on one spouse treating the other with “physical or mental cruelty”, or by showing that the spouses have lived “separate and apart” for at least one year.
In any case, the numerous allegations of infidelity (and possibly criminal conduct) that are being leveled at Bill Cosby have not yet been proven. But if they are – and if Camille Cosby were living in Canada – then she would be entitled to file for divorce without any difficulty at all.
Do you have a question about adultery as a grounds for divorce? Contact us for a consultation.