Foreign Divorces and Canadians

You and your spouse have separated and now your spouse has left Canada and obtained a foreign divorce. Is this divorce legal in Canada?

A divorce obtained in a country other than Canada is a valid and effective divorce in Canada as The one-year residence rule eliminates “quick divorce” havens.long as one of the spouses had a “real and substantial connection” with the country granting the divorce.

The Canadian Divorce Act requires that the person getting the foreign divorce has been “ordinarily resident” in the country granting the divorce. This means that the foreign country has been his or her place of usual residence for at least one year immediately before starting the divorce proceedings.

If that requirement is not met, then Canadian law does not recognize the foreign divorce and considers the spouses to be legally married. Neither one of the spouses can get remarried in Canada.

It’s the law

In some provinces or territories, you may be required to get a lawyer’s opinion on the validity of your foreign divorce in order to get a licence for remarriage.

33 thoughts on “Foreign Divorces and Canadians

  1. i am canadian living in india and my husband is getting divorce from me who is canadian living in canada is it valid or he has to come to india to get divorce since i have no one to live with if i go back to canada

  2. The way that Ontario law considers foreign divorces is ridiculous.

    I am a Permanent Resident of Canada who emigrated to Canada as a divorced person. While the Government of Canada recognizes my divorce (the marital status noted on my Landing Document is 4, or divorced), backed up by all of the relevant supporting materials that can be verified by background check in the country from which I emigrated (including proof of my ex's remarriage!), the Government of Ontario does not, nor does it recognizes the federal recognition of my marital status.

    I question why I should have to pay several hundred dollars for an Ontario opinion on a divorce that the Canadian government already accepts as valid for immigration purposes.

  3. My future husband has been divorced in Israel. We planning to get married in Canada.Will his divorce certificate be recognize in Canada,if he will translate it and ligalized in Israel?

  4. My husband is Canadian, he is leaving in Vietnam now and I'm not Canadian. We have been seperated and I'm an international student in Canada now. Can I file for divorce in Canada?

  5. For an uncontested divorce application in which both parties are willing to sign the documents and agree to (a) division of assets, and (b) federal requirements such as  spousal support, the applicant must have lived for the past 12 months in the province where the application is filed. The parties to the divorce application must also have lived “separate and apart” for 12 months before the divorce certificate will be issued (though you may generally start the process before the 12-month period is completed).If you have not lived 12 months in the province where you are now, or if your husband will not agree to sign the paperwork, you should consult a lawyer. Richard DayPublisherSelf-Counsel Press

  6. Im getting a divorce from my wife in thailand and she lived in thailand for the last 10 years. I believe allneed to do is sign the divorce papers with her and verify her being out of Canada more then 1Year

  7. My girlfriend is from thailand and for the past 5 years she has thought she was divorced until she went back home and found out she is still married. Her ex and her are both temporary foriegn workers can she get the divorce in canada

    1. If the marriage was made legal in Thailand and both partners are temporary foreign workers in Canada (not permanent residents), they would be better advised to file for divorce in Thailand. Trying to file here would come with a lot of problems and costs (notarized translations of all documents, for one big cost).

      Richard Day
      Self-Counsel Press

  8. Assuming you are using one of our divorce kits, the procedures for properly preparing the paperwork together with which forms need additional signatures and paperwork are spelled out in detail in the step-by-step instructions. Richard DayPublisherSelf-Counsel Press

  9. I entered a same sex marriage in Canada in 2005, we are both Washington state residents. If we divorce in Washington will Canada reconize it?

  10. i hv left my home country since 2004 but i hv my parents all family there i visit my parents regularly every year cause no one to take care of them.i applied my divoroce in my home country will my divorce be accepted in canada on real and substatial connection with my home country basis i am unable to fullfill 12 months residency before divorce proceedings..

  11. If you were married in Canada and are normally resident in Canada, getting a divorce certificate from another country is not likely to annul your marriage under Canadian law. If your spouse disagrees with the divorce (Canadian law requires issues like spousal and child support to be addressed), any paper from overseas can be challenged in Canada.You may want to consider contacting a lawyer or provincial legal services in the province where you live, to get more specific adviceRichard Day

  12. Hello Richard. I hope You are well. We are canadian citizens living abroad since 1996. Richard I separated from my ex in 2005 and obtained a divorce certificate in 2008. She remarried later in the same year and myself in 2011. I submitted the certificate to the Canadian embassy as I am registered there. Is there anything else I need to do to prevent any future repercussions?

    1. Afzal, it sounds like you have got the key elements covered and should not need to do anything more.Richard Day

  13. The paper granting the divorce in the USA should be sufficient.It would not be wise to claim he was never married, as one cannot know how such a statement on a legal document might become a problem in future. Richard Day

  14. If you married in India and the divorce is taking place there, there should be no need to do anything in Canada.Richard Day

  15. If your wife came to Canada as your wife (her immigration status was as the spouse of a Canadian), then you potentially have an immigration issue if you divorce her in India, because you will need to inform Citizenship and Immigration Canada of the change in status. The law on this changed last year, and is explained on this page. Richard Day

  16. Hi Richard,
    I got married in 2009 in Serbia (where I met my then-husband). He came to canada under a permanent resident visa and we lived together until August 2011. We got a divorce in Serbia (by undertaking power of attorneys) while we were both in Canada. Is this divorce recognizable?

  17. If you need to legally prove your divorce in Canada, evidence of a divorce in a foreign jurisdiction is usually accepted if the paperwork is official (document from a foreign court/legal authority) and certified as such by a consulate or similar (it may also be necessary to have it translated). Your husband should be aware that Citizenship and Immigration Canada have modified their rules and now state: “Effective October 25, 2012, sponsored spouses or partners must now live together in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day they receive permanent residence status in Canada.” — the implication being that permanent residence might be revoked if the time was less than two years from the date permanent residence was granted.Richard Day

  18. If you were married in Canada, you can apply to your local court. If your marriage took place in Tunisia we suggest you contact the Tunisian embassy or consulate nearest to where you live (the Embassy is in Ottawa, there are consulates in Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver) and seek their advice on applying for divorce papers from Canada. Richard Day

  19. The United States recognizes divorces granted in Canada, and because of Guam's relationship to the US there is no reason to believe they will not recognize your divorce. Richard Day

  20. Hello I have a question. I am a Canadian Citizen living in Ontario since landing in 1997. I went back to Pakistan and got married in 2011. I have filed for sponsorship and due to several issues, my wife and I are now looking to get divorced. Since she has never landed in Canada and her sponsorship is still pending as its not approved yet, how should I proceed to get a divorce. Can I get a divorce in Canada even though shes not here, or do I have to get a divorce in Pakistan?

    1. As your wife has never lived in Canada, your marriage in Pakistan will need to be do solved there. We are not familiar with the law in Pakistan, and so do not know if it would be possible to arrange the divorce via Pakistan consular offices in Canada, or if you would need to go to Pakistan to apply for divorce. We suggest you ask at a consulate here. Richard Day

      1. I spoke to a lawyer and now have filed the “Divorce of Decree” and have also hired a lawyer in Pakistan to represent me. I would not have to travel there and as per Pakistani Laws, it takes 90 days to dissolve the marriage and obtain a divorce certificate. Just a FYI :)

        I do have another question, since im planning to get remarried in Ontario, I understand once I get the divorce certificate I would need to submit that + other documents such as the marriage licence application, lawyers opnion to Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations – Office of the Registrar General in Thuderbay, Ontario. Do you by any chance know how long do they provide an authorization?

        1. Thank you for the information. Re. how long to get an authorization – that seems to be very much a case-by-case issue and we are not aware of a “standard” or typical length of time. Our impression is that clearance takes about a month, but we have heard of longer times. Richard Day

  21. Hi I'm dual citizen now Venezuelan-Canadian.
    I want to get divorced from my wife(also Dual Citizen) Who still stay in Canada.She doesn't want to get divorce but she doesn't want to come back as a family altogether to Venezuela, as well she doesn't want to live together.She doesn't allow me even the share custody of my kids.
    If I get divorce (Contested Divorce) using local laws in Venezuela that apply in this cases, after residency requirements are fulfilled.Would Divorce, as well as custody and child support decisions ruled in Venezuelan Courts, be recognized in Canada??

    1. This is a (very) complicated matter as the laws of two countries are involved as well as child custody. You will need to consult a lawyer who is familiar with international law and the divorce laws of both countries. We suspect that Canadian courts will not be keen to allow children to be removed from their mother and transferred to another country. Richard Day

  22. We are Canadians married in Canada, we both have been working and living in China for the past 15 years. I want to divorce my spouse and due to residency reqirement and related travelling issues, I plan to get the divoce done in China. Could you tell me if there is any Canadian laws with specific clauses governing Canadians getting international divorces? Will the court in China has he jurisdition to accept my case? Will the divorce granted there be valid in Canada?

  23. Unfortunately we are not able to evaluate whether or not a court in China has the jurisdiction. Our suggestion is to talk to someone at your nearest Canadian consulate, as they will have the answers you seek. Richard Day

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