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Foreign Divorce Opinion Letter

Obtaining Authorization for Marriage from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

To obtain authorization for marriage from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services you must provide them with a foreign divorce opinion letter. A foreign divorce opinion letter is a legal document provided by a licensed Ontario Lawyer validating a Divorce Order/Decree issued outside of Canada.

To remarry in Canada, you must prove you aren’t married to someone inside or outside the country. Canada doesn’t recognize polygamous marriages. If you divorced abroad, you need to verify its authenticity and validity. A legal opinion letter will confirm that your foreign divorce or annulment is legal and that you have the capacity to enter another marriage.
Only a lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario can issue an opinion letter.

If you find yourself unsure about the validity of your foreign divorce or need an opinion letter, you can contact RPB Ottawa Divorce Lawyers to book a consultation with our experienced team.

Foreign Divorces

Canada earns recognition as a safe haven for new immigrants. Canadian diverse culture has encouraged people from all over the world to move to Canada and build a new life for themselves and their families. However, life as an immigrant comes with many uncertainties and unique challenges. In addition to the emotional obstacles that come with moving to a new country, there are also procedural challenges that newcomers face after relocation. Ensuring Canadian law correctly determines your marital status is one such challenge. Fortunately, the Canadian government has implemented rules and laws to make the process of recognition clear and simple for immigrants.

Does Canadian Law Recognize Your Foreign Divorce?

Section 22 (1) of the Divorce Act – If a spouse lived in a jurisdiction for a year, Canada recognizes their foreign divorce.

For Canada to recognize a foreign divorce, prove a substantial connection to the granting jurisdiction. It’s rare for Canada not to acknowledge a foreign divorce that complies with the respective jurisdiction’s laws. Canada’s recognition criteria since the 1969 Indyka v. Indyka House of Lords decision is a strong link between the couple and divorce-issuing country. Recent rulings indicate that this substantial connection test can pertain to either the petitioner or respondent. As per Canadian Conflict of Laws, 6th ed., short ordinary residence in foreign proceedings can pose challenges due to Divorce Act’s one-year requirement. Re-establishing connection after prior substantial residence may overcome a return’s brevity.

No legal basis suggests lack of consent voids a foreign divorce. In Canada, one can get a divorce unilaterally after a year’s separation, without consent.

Do You Need to Register Your Foreign Divorce in Canada?

For authorization, submit a completed Marriage License Application, a joint Statement of Sole Responsibility, and the original/court-certified divorce decree/annulment. If not in English/French, provide translations and a lawyer’s opinion for recognition in Ontario. If married in foreign and Canadian jurisdictions, initiate divorces concurrently. To avoid delays and extra costs, it’s wise to seek legal advice before initiating your divorce.

1 Nowacki v. Nowacki, 2014 ONSC 2052 (CanLII).

2 Note: The information provided in this text is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified lawyer for individual legal concerns and specific guidance regarding your situation.