Getting Married in Ontario but Have a Foreign Divorce?

By Lakshani Perera  |  November 24, 2023

Lakshani Perera

Can you get remarried in Canada if you have a foreign divorce? The answer is YES.

However, if you are hoping to get married in Ontario but have a divorce that was granted in a country other than Canada, there are a few extra steps that are required before a Marriage Licence can be issued to you. Here’s how you can get prepared and ensure everything goes according to plan before your wedding date.

Understanding the process

If either you and/or your spouse has a Divorce Decree or Judgment from another country, you must obtain authorization from the Registrar General in Ontario via Service Ontario before getting a Marriage Licence issued. With this in mind, make sure to start the process well ahead of your wedding ceremony. There are several steps involved.

You need an “opinion letter”

To get this authorization from the Registrar General, you are required to include a letter, called an opinion letter, from an Ontario lawyer (on letterhead) authenticating the foreign divorce when submitting the documents. This letter from a lawyer, addressed to you and your new spouse, will need to state whether the foreign divorce would be recognized according to the laws of Canada. This includes taking into account the jurisdiction where the divorce was granted, where the parties to the divorce resided and other factors such as “domicile of origin,” and a “real and substantial connection” to the jurisdiction that granted the divorce. Domicile of origin and a real and substantial connection to the granting jurisdiction are important in order to validate foreign divorces because it helps establish and confirm that the jurisdiction that granted the divorce had authority to do so. Place of birth, residency, employment, nationality (citizenship), location of marriage, and ownership of property are some factors that are considered when determining domicile of origin and a real and substantial connection to the granting jurisdiction. This is a necessary step for people who want to marry in Canada but were divorced in another country. If both you and your partner both have foreign divorces, you will need two opinion letters.

If you do not include a foreign divorce opinion letter your Marriage Licence Application will be denied. Remember, this is a mandatory step in your application.

What do I need to bring to my opinion letter appointment with a lawyer?

  1. You and your spouse-to-be must both attend this appointment and bring government-issued photo ID, as the letter must be addressed to the both of you.
  2. The original or court-certified copy of the Divorce Decree or Judgment. If your Divorce Decree or Judgment is not in English, you must also bring a certified copy translated to English.
  3. The Marriage Licence Application, completed and signed by both parties who are intending to marry.
  4. A Statement of Sole Responsibility pursuant to section 8 of the Marriage Act needs to be completed as part of your Marriage Licence Application. This statement must be completed by both you and your spouse-to-be.

Henderson Family Law lawyers provide foreign divorce opinion letters in the City of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and to residents across the province. If the documents you bring to your appointment confirm that your foreign divorce would be recognized in Canada, the lawyer assisting you will provide you with your foreign divorce opinion letter on the same day of your appointment. If you are outside the City of Thunder Bay, a video appointment will be scheduled and documents will be exchanged electronically, with original copies to be mailed.

Next steps in the process

Your next step is to submit the required documents, including the foreign divorce opinion letter, to Service Ontario to receive authorization from the Registrar General of Ontario. This authorization can take up to four weeks, according to Service Ontario. Finally, you will need to take your completed Marriage Licence Application and other required documents, including the opinion letter, to your local City Hall or municipal office to apply for a Marriage Licence. Remember that a Marriage Licence is valid for up to 90 days from the day it is issued.

Contact Henderson Family Law to inquire further or to schedule your appointment today!


This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.

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