If you wish to remarry in Ontario after getting a divorce in a foreign jurisdiction, you have to show that you were legally divorced in the relevant country prior to your wedding in Canada. In these circumstances, before a marriage license can be obtained in Ontario, an authorization from the Ontario government must be presented before the marriage license is issued. In order to obtain the authorization, the following documentation must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar General, Marriage Office:
- A completed marriage license application executed by both you and your future spouse
- The original divorce or a copy of the divorce certified by the administrative officer of the court in the granting jurisdiction, or sealed or otherwise properly authenticated by the court. If the divorce decree is written in a language other than English or French, a certified translation is also required;
- Statement of Sole Responsibility, which states that the validity of a foreign divorce remains the responsibility of the license applicant, and that the Ontario government assumes no responsibility if the foreign divorce turns out to be invalid; and
- A copy of a legal opinion letter signed by an Ontario lawyer addressed to both parties who intend to marry stating that the foreign divorce would be recognized as valid in the Province of Ontario and providing the supporting legal reasoning for this position.
Under subsection 22(1) of the Divorce Act, a divorce from another country will likely be considered valid in Canada if either:
- When you obtained your divorce, either you or your spouse had been “ordinarily resident” in the place that granted the divorce for a year beforehand, meaning that you were living in the jurisdiction that granted the divorce for at least 1 year immediately prior to the filing of your application for divorce; or
- When you obtained your divorce, you had a “real and significant connection” to the place where you obtained the divorce. For example, if you frequently visit the country you were divorced in or own property there, this may count as a “significant connection”.
Therefore, the grounds for foreign divorce acceptance in Ontario are reasonably broad. When writing the foreign divorce opinion document, we at Hart Legal, will assess your specific circumstances, and determine whether you fall into one of the categories in which a divorce would be recognized and considered valid in Ontario, pursuant to both jurisprudence and existing legislation.