Marriage and divorce

Marriage in Canada

Under Canadian law, marriage is a legal agreement between two people and may or may not have a religious significance. Marriage laws apply to everyone who lives in Canada and each person in a marriage is viewed as an equal partner under law.

Same-sex and common-law marriages

Marriages between people of the same sex are legal in Canada and many people choose to live together in common-law relationships without a formal marriage ceremony. After a period of time, except in the province of Quebec, common-law couples receive a legal status that gives them the same rights and responsibilities as other married couples.

Divorce in Canada

You do not have to be a Canadian citizen to divorce in Canada. Either partner can apply for a divorce.

You can apply for a divorce if:

  • You were legally married in Canada or abroad.
  • You intend to separate from your spouse permanently or have already separated and believe the marriage is over.
  • Either one or both of you have lived in a Canadian province or territory for at least one year immediately before applying for a divorce.

To get a divorce, one of the following situations must apply:

  • You and your spouse have lived apart for one year and believe your marriage is over.
  • Your spouse has committed adultery.
  • Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to you.

Speak to a lawyer

To start a divorce application, people in Canada usually speak to a lawyer who practices family law. The lawyer will tell you how the law protects your rights and applies to your situation.

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