If you were not married in Ontario, can you get divorced in Ontario? What if your ex-spouse lives someplace else?

Judge hammer by raffaella_biscuso -  divorce court gavel

Yes.  What matters when you are getting divorced is where you live at the time you are getting the divorce.  Where you got married almost never matters.  You are not entitled to get divorced in Ontario if you have not lived in Ontario for one year - even if you were married here. 

For a Canadian Court to grant a divorce one of the spouses must have lived in the province granting the divorce for one year.  If you have not lived in Ontario for one year, then you have to wait to get your divorce. That is on top of the requirement that you and your spouse be separated for one year.  (There are a limited number of circumstances when you do not have to be separated one year to be divorced - see this article).  

It is possible that Canada will not recognize your divorce if you get divorced in place where neither spouse is living.  That is true even if you go back to the place you were married.  If you get divorced in a place where neither spouse lives, you may have to go to court in Ontario to have your divorce recognized here.  See this court case.

The biggest problems separated spouses face when they want a divorce from someone who lives in another country is often finding the other spouse.  For advice on what to if you do not know where ex is, see this webpage.

For more information about getting an Ontario Divorce, including how long it will take, watch this video.

When getting divorced, you may have rights to support, property claims or rights in relation to the children.  Some of those rights end or change when you get divorced.  So, you may want to speak to a family lawyer about your options.  You can also read this $20 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law to make sure you are unknowingly making a mistake. 

© John P. Schuman 2014