Recognition of Foreign Divorces in Ontario

Angela Princewill

May 23, 2023

Toby, who had been married to Leah for five blissful years, unfortunately, had to go through the arduous process of divorce due to the strain and pressure of the pandemic. After much contemplation and discussion, they decided to dissolve their union in 2021, a decision that was recently finalized. However, Toby’s fortune changed after he met the love of his life during a ski trip to Whistler, BC, in December 2022. Overwhelmed with affection and the desire to tie the knot once again, Toby is left with an important question that must be answered before he can proceed to exchange vows with his new partner, “will his divorce be recognized in Canada?”


The question of whether a divorced individual from the United States can get remarried in Canada is not uncommon. In Toby’s case, his previous marriage was legally dissolved in the United States as per the country’s legal system. The process involved the filing of a petition, serving notice to the spouse, division of assets, and agreement on child support, among other aspects, before a judge made a final decision on the matter.


However, the recognition of a foreign divorce in Canada may not be automatic. Generally, if the divorce was granted in a country that follows similar legal principles as Canada, then it is usually recognized. According to the Divorce Act, a foreign divorce can generally be recognized in Canada if both parties involved in the original marriage were entitled to obtain a divorce under the laws of the country where the divorce was granted. Additionally, the divorce decree must meet certain requirements in terms of form and content, and the parties must have been granted appropriate notice and the opportunity to participate in the proceedings leading up to the divorce.


It’s worth noting that Toby may need to meet certain requirements before getting married in Canada, regardless of whether his divorce is recognized or not. For instance, he would have to obtain a marriage license, provide proof of his divorce, and fulfill any other conditions deemed necessary under the Marriage Act, R.S.O. 1990 c.M.3. Moreover, Toby and his new partner may need to be aware of the impact that their marriage has on their immigration status, particularly if one of them is a non-resident of Canada, and they wish to make Canada their home.


While Toby’s US divorce is legally binding in the US, its recognition in Canada while very likely, given it is the United States, depends on several factors. To avoid any future legal complications, Toby may choose to seek guidance from a legal professional to ensure that he meets all the requirements before tying the knot.