Foreign Divorce Opinion Letter

Foreign divorce opinion letter

In order to get married in Ontario you must be at least 16 years old, and if you are under 18 then you need to have parental consent. You can choose a civil marriage at a municipal office or City Hall, or a religious marriage carried out by a religious official who appears on the authorised officiants list. You will then need to seek a marriage licence before the wedding can go ahead. In order to do this, you will need two forms of identification and will be required to pay a fee.

If one or both of the individuals wishing to get married have previously been married and have divorced, then there is a little more paperwork to complete. In order to receive a marriage licence, you will need proof of the divorce including the final decree, the certificate of divorce and the final judgement. If your divorce was granted outside of Ontario, then the process is even more tricky.

If you have been married previously and have been granted a divorce in a country outside of Canada then before you are legally allowed to remarry in Ontario, you need to be able to prove that your divorce was legal in that country. There are further documents that need to be provided and these documents must be validated by the government. This process takes longer than a standard marriage application. As well as providing a copy of the divorce certificate there are a number of other documents that you will need to submit before the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario will be able to grant you a marriage licence. These include:

  • An application for a marriage licence signed by both of you.
  • The divorce certificate must be written in English or French. You must provide an original copy or a copy that has been certified by the court. If the divorce certificate is written in another language then you must get a certified, translated version of the document.
  • If both of you had a divorce outside of Canada then you will each need to provide a Statement of Sole Responsibility, which can be found online. This is your statement to confirm that your foreign divorce is valid as far as you are concerned and any evidence to the contrary is your responsibility and not the responsibility of the Ontario government.
  • You will need to speak to an Ontario lawyer about getting a foreign divorce opinion letter. This will outline the reasons why your divorce is eligible to be recognised in Canada.

As you can see here, the role of a family lawyer in Ontario is not only to help out with separations and divorce but also to assist couples who wish to remarry.

What is an opinion letter for the purposes of a foreign divorce?

This is a letter written by a foreign divorce lawyer in Ontario to state that in the lawyer’s opinion the foreign divorce is legitimate and should be recognised in Ontario. Your lawyer will carry out research into the legal system of the country from which the divorce was given. They will seek further information about where the married couple lived and the laws that applied to them. Following the assessment of all the required factors and relevant legal regulations, your lawyer will also give a personal opinion as to whether or not the foreign divorce should be recognised in Canada. This will be presented as a list of reasons setting out why the lawyer is confident that the divorce should be considered valid based on the relevant laws of the province and the facts that they have gleaned.

The foreign divorce letter can only be written and signed by a lawyer in Ontario who has authorisation from the Upper Canada Law Society. The Registrar General of Ontario will reject any letter that is written by yourself or by a lawyer who does not have the relevant qualifications or authority.

To allow your lawyer to be able to start drafting a letter, you must be able to provide certain documents. Be sure to bring along the following:

  • A Statement of Sole Responsibility with both parties as signatories.
  • The Application for Marriage
  • A signed statement from the person who was divorced, or from both parties if you have both been divorced outside of Canada, confirming that you lived for at least a year in the country where the divorce was granted, prior to submitting the application for divorce.

How do I know if my foreign divorce will be recognizedin Ontario?

There are a stringent set of criteria to establish whether or not your divorce will be considered valid in Ontario. The divorce is likely to be accepted if you can prove one of the following.

  1. You can show a real and substantial connection to the country in which you applied for divorce. There is no hard and fast rule about what qualifies as a real and substantial connection but if you resided in a location and worked there then there is usually a presumption that you had a genuine connection. Even if you have never actually lived in that country, if you can show that you are originally from there, have returned there on numerous occasions or perhaps own a property there then you may still be able to meet the real and substantial connection criteria.
  2. You can show that you or your spouse were resident in the country where you obtained your divorce for at least a year prior to your application.

How long will it take for my foreign divorce to be recognised in Ontario?

The process of having your divorce recognised in Canada doesn’t take very long. It is usually somewhere between 3 and 4 weeks. Therefore, we recommend that you don’t delay in seeing a foreign divorce lawyer in Ontario, in order for them to prepare your foreign divorce opinion letter as soon as possible. Having your other documents ready will expedite the process.

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