A question often raised by people who are not originally from Canada, or who got married somewhere else, is “Do I have to get divorced in the same city or country where I got married?” The short and simple answer is: No. Where you were married has no bearing on where you are divorced.
The law of divorce is the same across Canada. It can be found in legislation called the Divorce Act, which is federal legislation. Under the Divorce Act, a judge in Canada may grant a divorce in any province or territory, regardless of where the in Canada the marriage took place. For those couples who were married in a different country altogether, you may be able to obtain a divorce in Canada. Canadian courts have jurisdiction to grant a divorce where one spouse has been a resident in Canada for at least one year, even if the other spouse has not been a Canadian resident during that time.
It is important to note that Canada will not recognize a divorce granted in another jurisdiction unless at least one spouse was a resident in that jurisdiction. This means, for example that a divorce granted in Australia will only be recognized in Canada if you or your spouse lives in Australia full-time. It does not matter where you were married. Canadian courts have the power to divorce people married outside of Canada, and do so on a regular basis.
It’s a common cliche in movies that couples looking for a quickie divorce can get one in Reno, Nevada. There is nothing stopping anyone from doing so. However, it is important to realize that under Canadian law, if you get a divorce from a jurisdiction in which neither you or your spouse is a resident, you will have to go to a Canadian court to get that divorce recognized.
If you have additional questions about the divorce process or about any other family law matter, please contact family lawyer Jason P. Howie, online or at 519.973.1500.