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Divorcing Outside of Canada

There are special rules that apply when you are divorcing your spouse outside of Canada. Your divorce is valid if you divorced outside of British Columbia only if one of the spouses lived in the country where the divorce was granted for at least one year prior to the divorce. This is usually an important prerequisite if the validity of divorce is in dispute.

In Sangi v. Sangi, 2011 BCSC 523 (CanLII), the parties divorced in Iran and followed Iranian proceedings for the divorce. One of the former spouses later sought to declare the Iranian divorce proceedings invalid. The court found that a foreign divorce is recognized in Canada if the following conditions are met:

  • the decree must be a final order of divorce requiring no further steps;

  • the Order must not have been obtained by collusion or fraud; and

  • the proceedings must conform to Canadian rules of natural justice . For example, notifying the other party in advance of the proceeding.

In this case, the court found that the divorce was valid and effective in Canada.

If you are considering divorcing your spouse and your spouse is not a Canadian citizen, you must be aware of the unique considerations that apply to your circumstances. Where you may be the sponsor for your spouse, your spouse will have rights and you will have obligations resulting from the deterioration of the relationship as it relates to the Federal Government and the sponsorship agreement you signed. You will need to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine your rights and obligations. One of the questions to ask the immigration lawyer is whether you will be required to repay any social assistance your foreign spouse receives after you are separated.

Let Valerie M. Little, Separation & Divorce Lawyer, Help You

If you are considering divorcing your spouse who is not a Canadian citizen or you are already in the process of doing so, you may have questions about your specific circumstances. Valerie is an experienced family law lawyer who will be pleased to meet with you to discuss the best options for you moving forward. Whether you are in New Westminster, Coquitlam or Burnaby, speak to our family lawyer today by calling us at 604-526-3333.


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