Getting Remarried in Canada

Remarriage can be an exciting time in your life as you prepare for starting a brand-new chapter with a new partner. However, it is accompanied by a number of legal requirements and precautions before the marriage can be solemnized. It is important to note that it is illegal to marry someone in Canada if one of you is already married, regardless of where or when that marriage took place. Remarriage can only occur if you are legally divorced or your spouse has passed.

Re-Marrying after a Canadian Divorce

When you are first granted a divorce, you will receive an Order for Divorce granted by the Superior Court of Justice or a Unified Family Court. This Divorce Order is a formal document issued by the court that legally terminates your marriage. Following this, on the day the divorce is finalized, a Certificate of Divorce will be issued by the court, usually, about 31 days after the Divorce Order is granted. This Certificate can be obtained by you or your lawyer from the Court and would need to be shown to the issuing clerk during remarriage as proof that you are no longer married.

When applying for a marriage licence for remarriage, you must first submit official proof of the divorce, which can be the original or a court-certified copy of either the Final Decree (also known as the Decree Absolute), the Final Judgment, or a Certificate of Divorce – all of which can be obtained from the court office that granted the divorce. It should be noted that a Decree Nisi or Divorce Order will not be accepted as proof.

Once proof of divorce has been established, you may proceed with the regular marriage process in Ontario and book an appointment to begin the steps. Generally, you are required to bring with you:

1. Appointment Permit (this would be printed when you book online).

2. Completed application dated with original signatures.

3. Two pieces of an original and valid government-issued ID for each person applying from the list of acceptable ID’s.

4. Divorce documentation.

Re-Marrying after Foreign Divorce

In cases where you were divorced outside of Canada, you will need to provide certain documents that prove you are no longer married, which would be validated by the Office of the Registrar General for Ontario before authorizing you to get a marriage licence. This process can take up to 4 weeks. You would be required to send the following documents to Service Ontario:

– A completed and signed marriage licence application form

– A statement of sole responsibility (signed by both people planning to get married, and a witness)

– A legal opinion letter (from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both people getting married, providing reasons as to why the foreign divorce or annulment should be recognized in Ontario)

– A divorce decree or annulment (an original or court-certified copy in English or French; where the decree is in another language, you must provide a translated copy and a signed affidavit sworn by a certified translator)

Effect on Spousal Support Orders

In cases where one is paying spousal support to their ex-spouse, remarriage of a recipient spouse does not automatically terminate a support order made under the Divorce Act – varying or discharging an order can only be done through the application. However, the current law in this area shows little consensus.

Spousal support may be reduced, suspended or even terminated; compensatory support is often treated differently from non-compensatory support; and adjustment of order often depends on the standard of living in the recipient’s new household, as well as the length of the first marriage and the age of the recipient spouse. Ultimately, this is an area where the law is unclear and there is no set formula; thus, such issues would be determined on a case-by-case basis and possibly through negotiations.

In addition, simple evidence of remarriage by the payor does not in itself justify a variation of an original spousal support order – the remarried party would need to establish that the remarriage has affected the needs or means of the party in issue so as to require a variation. Often, remarriage or re-partnering improves the payor’s ability to pay due to shared expenses with a new spouse or partner.

Relevant Considerations

A new marriage is accompanied by certain practical considerations. For instance, if you are getting re-married, it is recommended that you consider having a marriage contract drawn up beforehand, as this better protects your finances and assets in the future. This would require that both parties seek independent legal advice so that they are aware of all that is laid out in the contract and to ensure that the contract is reasonable in nature.

You should also consider redrafting your will, as a second marriage may revoke any existing wills unless the will is made in contemplation of the new marriage. This is particularly important in cases where you may have children from previous marriages who you want to benefit from your will. This would also be a good time to change beneficiary designations on RRSPs and life insurance policies.

Remarriage can be a momentous milestone of your life; thus, it is important that you ensure all legal requirements are addressed and taken care of so as to create a seamless legal process for yourself, your future spouse and your family while focusing on enjoying the start to this new chapter.

Nothing in this article should be considered or relied on as legal advice or opinion. This article only provides general information and should you have any further questions regarding the remarriage and licensing process, please contact us to book a Free initial consultation 905-366-0202 or through our website here.

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