Canada’s Foreign Same-Sex Spouses Trapped In Wedlock


Foreign same-sex couples who married in Canada might just have to wait "until death do us part" to end their marriage.

Reports Maclean's:

Canada has not yet legalized same-sex divorce for non-residents. And since these couples’ home countries don’t recognize their marriages to begin with, they’re more or less locked into matrimony.

There’s a bill before Parliament to fix this problem. It’s called the Civil Marriage of Non-residents Act, and would have been more aptly named the Quickie Divorce Act. Complicated issues like division of assets, spousal support and custody of dependents? Don’t worry, that all falls to the courts in your home country. Sign here and here, and congrats, you’re single.

That bill, though, is not likely to make it past the second reading before parliament is out for the summer, meaning many more months until the bill has cleared all of its hurdles. And there's also a risk that Prime Minister Stephen Harper could prorogue parliament, which would effectively put the bill back to the starting line, meaning potentially many more years until these couples can put their big fat Canadian wedding behind them.


  1. Randy says

    The linked article refers to something called “international marriage law”, as if there is such a thing. Anyone?

  2. Jmac says

    This makes no sense…if the country/state/whatever you live in doesn’t recognize your marriage in the first place, why do you need a divorce?

  3. shanestud says

    The Queerty reporter should have but ignored the possible striking down of DOMA. If that happens then states/courts would be compelled to recognize Canadian same-sex marriages and offer legal relief to American gay couples seeking divorce as they would for straight couples who got married outside the USA.

  4. lukefromcanada says

    i would recommend reading the article from macleans it explains exactly why you would need a divorce. however if the state refuses to recognize your marriage and then later on it does, wouldn’t you have to register it in order to make it recognized?

  5. Jack M says

    So much for Canada’s progressive appeal. How can you marry someone without the option of divorcing them? The divorce concept is already built in. Just plain weird.

  6. jonathan says

    shanestud: If a straight couple is married in Canada do they have the “register” the marriage for it to be valid in New York? If marriage is recognized in a specific jurisdiction there is no need to register anything even if the recognition is after the fact.

  7. Jim Elliott says

    This item was out of date by the time it was published.

    Bill C-32, the Civil Marriage of Non-residents Act, is moving quickly through the Canadian parliament (finally). This bill allows people married in Canada to get divorced in Canada, when their home country does not recognize their marriage (i.e. same-sex couples).

    The bill was introduced into the House of Commons on February 17, 2012 and then nothing happened. On June 18, 2013 the bill went through 2nd reading, committee stage, and 3rd reading (all in one day!). The Senate took up the bill with 1st reading on June 18, 2nd reading and committee stage on June 19/20, and is now awaiting 3rd reading (should happen today) and then Royal Assent.