Foreign Divorce in Ontario

"Is my divorce from another country recognized in Canada?"

A divorce from another country is valid in Canada if either: (1) when you obtained your divorce you had a "real and substantial" connection to the place where you obtained the divorce; or (2) when you obtained your divorce, either you or your spouse had been ordinarily resident in the place that granted the divorce for a year beforehand.

So, if you normally lived in the place where you divorced, the chances are good that your divorce will be recognized in Canada. On the other hand, if you obtained a quick divorce in a place like the Dominican Republic and otherwise had nothing to do with that place, the chances are that your divorce will NOT be recognized in Canada.

Similarly, I've often seen immigrants to Canada from places like Pakistan who, even though they now live in Canada permanently, still obtain a divorce in their original country. The chances are that these divorce will NOT be recognized in Canada.

There are other cases where a foreign divorce won't be recognized: if the divorce was obtained by fraud, or in some similar way is not genuine.

The relevant statutory law is section 22 of the Divorce Act of Canada, which provides:

(1) A divorce granted, on or after the coming into force of this Act, pursuant to a law of a country or subdivision of a country other than Canada by a tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction to do so shall be recognized for all purposes of determining the marital status in Canada of any person, if either former spouse was ordinarily resident in that country or subdivision for at least one year immediately preceding the commencement of proceedings for the divorce.

(2) A divorce granted, after July 1, 1968, pursuant to a law of a country or subdivision of a country other than Canada by a tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction to do so, on the basis of the domicile of the wife in that country or subdivision determined as if she were unmarried and, if she was a minor, as if she had attained the age of majority, shall be recognized for all purposes of determining the marital status in Canada of any person.

(3) Nothing in this section abrogates or derogates from any other rule of law respecting the recognition of divorces granted otherwise than under this Act.

Further Resources
--> Sample opinion letter for foreign divorce
--> Instructions for obtaining marriage certificate if divorced abroad
--> Recognition of foreign divorce decrees in Ontario

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