In order for a foreign divorce to be recognized in Canada, it must first be valid under the laws of that country.
Section 22(1) of the Divorce Act addresses the recognition of foreign divorces in Canada as follows:
“A divorce granted, on or after the coming into force of this Act, pursuant to a law of a country or subdivision of a country other than Canada by a tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction to do so shall be recognized for all purposes of determining the marital status in Canada of any person, if either former spouse was ordinarily resident in that country or subdivision for at least one year immediately preceding the commencement of proceedings for the divorce.”
Section 22(3) of the Divorce Act preserves pre-existing common law rules regarding foreign divorce:
“Nothing in this section abrogates or derogates from any other rule of law respecting the recognition of divorces granted otherwise than under this Act.”
Even if neither spouse has lived in the other country for a full year, the foreign divorce may still be legal if the spouse who applied for the divorce can prove that he or she has a “real and substantial connection” with that country. For example, the spouse was born in that country, has family there, owns property there, travels there frequently or spends a significant amount of time there.
However, the Courts have refused to recognize a foreign divorce on the other grounds such as public policy, fraud and denial of natural justice. It is important to consult with lawyers in both countries regarding your foreign divorce.