DSF’s family lawyer was recently asked the following question:
If someone gets divorced in Tennessee, is the divorce legal in Ontario if they haven’t registered their divorce in Canada? I am planning on getting married again in Ontario.
In the 21st century, it is important that the law keeps pace with the realities of an increasingly globalized world, one of which is the increasing flow of people between countries. In the context of family law, the shifting of families, children and individuals across borders has created a host of challenges for family lawyers, judges and legislators alike. One of the areas that continue to be the subject of focus is the recognition of foreign marriages and divorce.
While the traditions, ceremonies and requirements for marriage and divorce vary from country to country, when it comes to recognizing them in Canada, there is only one set of rules. Whether you are divorced in New York or New Delhi, the test is the same.
If you want to get remarried in Ontario after obtaining a divorce in a foreign jurisdiction, you have to establish that the foreign divorce is recognizable in Canada. Under s.22(1) of the Divorce Act, a foreign divorce will be recognized where one of the spouses was ‘ordinarily resident’ in that country for at least a year immediately before obtaining the divorce. However, that is only the first step to being able to remarry in Ontario.
Before the Ontario government will issue you a marriage license, you have to obtain an authorization from the Registrar-General. To do this, you have to provide the following documents to the Office of the Registrar-General, Marriage Office:
- A marriage license application completed by you and your new spouse;
- The original divorce order or notarized copy of the divorce order. If the divorce judgment was written in a language other than English or French, you will have to obtain a court-certified translation of the document;
- A completed Statement of Sole Responsibility, which is a document that attests that you and your new spouse understand that the granting of a new marriage license does not necessarily mean that the foreign divorce would be recognized by an Ontario Court.
- A legal opinion letter from a lawyer, addressed to you and your new spouse, giving an opinion that the foreign divorce would be recognized as valid in Ontario and giving the reasons for their opinion.
Once you have submitted these documents, the Registrar General will provide an authorization allowing you to obtain a marriage license. Only then will you be free to remarry in Ontario.
It is important that you speak to a lawyer before embarking on remarriage. There are a number of legal hurdles to get over, and you will need a lawyer to draft an opinion letter in any event. If you are planning to get remarried in Ontario and need some advice, assistance or an opinion letter, contact a member of our Family Law Team.
“This article is intended to inform and entertain. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”