Area of Law: Family Law
Answer Number: 100
Getting marriedRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 100
Getting a marriage licence
To be legally married in the province of Ontario, you and your future spouse must follow the rules and procedures established by the Ontario government and obtain a marriage licence. This can be done by visiting your local city hall. You and the person you are marrying will have to show your photo identification and one of the following documents: your birth certificate along with any change of name certificates, or Canadian citizenship card, Permanent Resident Card, or Record of Immigrant Landing, or current passport. You and your future spouse must also fill out an application form and pay a fee of about $100 to $140. Blood tests and medical certificates are not necessary. A marriage licence will be prepared and given to you while you wait. You must then wait at least three days before actually getting married.
Getting remarried after a divorce
If you or your future spouse have been previously divorced, you must each provide the original or a court-certified copy of proof of divorce, usually in the form of a Final Decree (also known as a Decree Absolute), the Final Judgment, or a Certificate of Divorce obtainable from the court where the proceedings took place. If you were divorced outside Canada, you must obtain authorization from the Ontario government before you can be issued a marriage licence. To get this authorization, you need the following four documents:
- a completed marriage licence application form,
- a Statement of Sole Responsibility for each divorce signed by both you and your future spouse,
- an original or court-certified copy of the divorce decree or annulment, translated into English or French (if applicable), and
- a legal opinion letter from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both you and your future spouse, giving reasons why the divorce or annulment should be recognized in the province of Ontario.
You must send all these documents to:
P.O. Box 4600
189 Red River Road
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6L8
Who can perform a legal marriage?
Marriage licences expire after three months, so the ceremony must be within this time. To be legally valid, marriage ceremonies must be done by someone who is registered to perform marriages. This includes most ministers, priests and rabbis as well as judges and justices of the peace. Marriages conducted by judges and justices of the peace are usually conducted in their judicial chambers. There must also be two people to witness the ceremony.
Restrictions on who can get married
Although individuals can choose whom they want to marry without interference from the government, there are still four basic rules about who can get married in Ontario. People who do not meet these four requirements will not be given a marriage licence. First, both people must be at least 18 years old to get married without parental consent. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must obtain parental consent to marry. A person under the age of 16 is not permitted to marry in the province of Ontario. Second, both people must be mentally competent. Third, neither person can be already married. Fourth, you and the person you are marrying cannot be closely related. The Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act sets prohibited degrees of affinity and consanguinity.
Also, you do not need to be of the opposite sex to be legally married in Ontario. Since July 2005, the Civil Marriage Act has made same-sex marriages legal throughout Canada. In Toronto, same-sex couples have been receiving licences since June 11, 2003 after the Ontario Court of Appeal made same-sex marriages legal in Ontario. However, it is important to note that under the Civil Marriages Act, religious officials registered to perform marriages are not required to solemnize or to allow a sacred place to be used for solemnizing a same-sex marriage, if it is against their religious beliefs.
Legal significance of marriage
Before entering into marriage, you should be aware of the many rights and obligations arising from marriage that will affect each of you, your spouse, and your children in the event of a marriage breakdown. On separation, property rights are governed by the Family Law Act of Ontario under a scheme that equalizes the net family property of the spouses. However, other arrangements may be provided for, before or after the marriage, in a domestic or marriage contract between the parties. There may also be rights and obligations for financial support for the spouses and their children after a marriage break-up. If you want to change any of the provisions established by the laws of Ontario, you should consider entering into a marriage contract.
For more information about what is required to get married in Ontario, visit the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services website at ontario.ca.
For legal advice and assistance with marriage contracts, prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and other family law matters, contact our preferred Family Law lawyers:
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