Foreign Divorce Opinion Letter

Foreign Divorce Opinion Letter

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If you want to marry in Ontario and were previously divorced outside Canada, you must obtain an Authorization Letter from the Marriage Office to obtain a Marriage License. In short, to obtain the Authorization Letter, a number of documents along with a Foreign Divorce Opinion Letter issued by an Ontario lawyer must be mailed to the Marriage Office. Your marriage license application will be denied if you do not follow this step. Continue reading below for

Please make sure you give yourself ample time to fulfill this requirement. Once the required documents along with the opinion letter are mailed to the Marriage Office, it can take up to 4 weeks for the government to provide you authorization to marry.

What is a foreign divorce opinion letter? This is a letter from a lawyer stating whether the foreign divorce would be recognized in Canada. The lawyer will take into account the jurisdiction where the divorce was granted, where the parties to the divorce resided, the applicable law, and any other factors required to assess the recognition of the foreign divorce in Canada.

After assessing all of the relevant factors, the lawyer will provide an opinion on the recognition of the foreign divorce in Ontario. The lawyer will also provide clear reasons as to why he or she believes the divorce would be recognized as valid in Ontario. The letter will make reference to the applicable law in Ontario and the relevant facts that support the opinion of the lawyer.

Who can draft and sign off on a foreign divorce opinion letter? Please note that in Ontario only a lawyer who is licenced and authorized to practice law by the Law Society of Upper Canada can prepare this letter. If you attempt to draft your own letter, or through an unlicensed practitioner, it will be rejected by the government.

What do I need to bring to my appointment? The following documents will be required for your appointment:

  1. The original or court certified copy of the Divorce Decree/Judgement. If the Divorce Decree is not in English or French, a certified translation to English must be provided as well.
  2. An Application for Marriage (completed by both parties intending to marry)
  3. A Statement of Sole Responsibility (signed by both of the parties intending to marry)
  4. Full payment of $450 plus HST for the letter.

MAIL SERVICE: If you are unable to attend our office, no need to worry. We now offer a convenient mail in service that saves you a trip to our office. This service includes our firm reviewing and submitting the entire package to the Marriage Office, in addition to the completion of the letter.

There is an additional $250 plus HST fee for the mail service option. Please note that we offer this service world-wide!

What is the process of getting remarried after obtaining the foreign divorce opinion letter? The process after obtaining the foreign divorce opinion letter is not difficult. You will be required to submit the foreign divorce opinion letter along with additional material to the following address: Office of the Registrar General P.O. Box 4600, 189 Red River Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 6L8, Attention: Marriage Office.

The following is a list of documents you will have to send to the above noted government office:

  1. The Application for Marriage signed by both parties
  2. The original or court certified copy of the divorce decree. If the divorce is not in English or French, you will also be required to submit a certified translation of the divorce decree.
  3. The Statement of Sole Responsibility signed by both parties
  4. The foreign divorce opinion letter we provide you stating that your foreign divorce is valid in Ontario.

After mailing the above documents, Service Ontario takes approximately 4 weeks to mail back to you your original documents including an Authorization to Remarry Letter.

What is the process after the required documents are submitted to the Marriage Office?

Please note that the Authorization Letter expires within 90 (ninety) days. This means you must apply for the Marriage License within 90 (ninety) days of the date on the Authorization Letter. The Marriage License itself is valid for 90 days from the date it was issued.

Service Ontario provides valuable information on how to obtain the marriage license and the marriage process. For information on how to get the documents you need to marry in Ontario you can visit the government site here.

Other Important Information

In Ontario, the minimum age for marriage is 16 years of age. If you are under the age of 18 you will require parental consent to marry.

Marriages are performed either as a religious marriage or a civil marriage. Regardless of the type of marriage, the person performing the marriage must be legally authorized to perform the marriage. In a religious marriage a religious official who is authorized as a religious marriage officiant performs the marriage. In a civil marriage an authorized clerk of the municipality, a justice of the peace or judge performs the marriage.

Regardless of the type of marriage, a marriage licence is needed prior to the performance of the marriage ceremony. You will need to provide two government IDs and pay a fee to obtain the marriage licence.

Once married you will be ready to order a marriage certificate.

Save time for a foreign divorce opinion letter

Ontario residents hoping to marry after a divorce abroad need to leave enough time to obtain a foreign divorce opinion letter, says Toronto family lawyer Usman Sadiq.

“It’s a practical issue that comes up,” says Sadiq, founder and principal owner of Sadiq Law Professional Corporation, noting that the lack of an opinion letter can delay processing for marriage licence applications by four to six weeks.

“I’ve had people come to me a few weeks prior to their remarriage when they’ve already booked the hall, sent invitations, and arranged everything,” he tells “When you’re that close, there’s no guarantee the clearance will come in time.”

Under s. 22 of the federal Divorce Act, divorces granted abroad will generally be recognized in this country as long as the parties have a “real and substantial” connection to the jurisdiction in which it was granted, and at least one party lived there for a year beforehand.

“It’s a relatively simple test, but there are still requirements that can pose practical issues,” Sadiq says, explaining that applicants for marriage licences will usually need to provide an opinion letter from a lawyer confirming they were legally and properly divorced in the foreign jurisdiction.

It’s the processing time associated with this extra step that can cause problems, he says.

“It takes anywhere from four to six weeks to process, but it’s a step often forgotten or simply not known by parties,” Sadiq says.

While some individuals may be tempted to draft their own letters to officials in the province’s marriage office, Sadiq says this could cause more problems since they will only recognize an opinion letter from a licensed Ontario lawyer.

When asked to provide such an opinion letter, he takes into account such factors as the jurisdiction where the foreign divorce was granted, and where the parties to the divorce resided, before explaining in detail whether or not it would be recognized in Canada.

Sadiq says a remarriage may also raise immigration law issues for permanent residents seeking to sponsor a new spouse if they’re unable to convince immigration officials that their original foreign divorce was valid.

“That’s why it’s better to start the process of getting the divorce recognized as early as possible,” he says.


For more information on obtaining a foreign divorce opinion letter, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer.

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