3 Common Myths About Divorcing A Foreign Spouse In Canada, Debunked


As Canada is such a popular country for people to emigrate to, marriages between Canadians and foreign spouses is quite common. Many Canadians misunderstand what their rights are under Canadian law, though. This article deals with five myths that people hold about divorcing a foreign, non-Canadian spouse in Canada.

Myth #1. Canada Does Not Recognize A Divorce From Another Country

Reality: Many Canadians marry foreigners in a country outside of Canada. A common myth is that divorces outside Canada are not recognized under Canadian law. This is untrue. Canadian law generally recognizes a divorce that took place in another country if the marriage and divorce were legally valid under the laws of that country. For example, they would recognize a legal marriage but not a common-law marriage where a couple simply had a religious ceremony but completed no formal paperwork. The only requirement is usually that one or both spouses lived in the country where they divorced for one year prior to divorcing. This guards against cases where Canadians try to divorce their foreign spouse abroad in order to secure more favorable settlement deals.

Myth #2. Canadians Cease To Hold Responsibility For Sponsored Spouses After A Divorce

Reality: Many Canadians choose to sponsor their foreign spouses to come to Canada. One prevalent myth is that you can divorce your spouse during the sponsorship period and cease to be responsible for them. This is untrue. When you undertook the sponsorship, you agreed to continue responsibility for a period of three years. This doesn’t end even if you divorce your spouse during this time. For example, if you divorced your spouse one year after beginning the sponsorship period, you would be responsible for their basic needs for the remaining two years even if you divorced them during that period.

Myth #3. You Cannot Prevent An Ex-Spouse From Taking Children Out Of Canada

Reality: Contrary to popular belief you do not require your spouse’s consent to file for a divorce. If there has been adultery, mental or physical cruelty or you have lived apart for more than a year, you can file for divorce on your own. Many Canadians believe the myth that if their spouse is awarded custody of their kids, they cannot be legally prevented from taking the children out of Canada. This is false as you can seek an order in the legal separation or divorce order to limit the spouse’s mobility rights to the area where you live. Even if your spouse is awarded full custody, they still may not have the right to take children out of a certain area. A typical concern is that they will seek to return to their home country and take the children with them. A good lawyer will help argue that this isn’t in the best interest of the child or the family unit.


This article provides very general information about Canadian divorce laws based on information presented by the Canadian Department Of Justice. This should not be considered legal advice. Divorce and family laws are highly complex and you should always consult a lawyer before making any complex decisions. One firm of divorce lawyers in Winnipeg note that divorce laws are open to a degree of interpretation and that an experienced, reputable divorce lawyer will be able to argue for favorable outcomes for their clients.

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