Marriages, divorces, and annulments inside and outside Canada

You might wonder if your marital status is the same everywhere (that is, if your marriage or divorce is valid) if:

  • you were married in one province, territory, or country, and
  • you moved to a different province, territory, or country, or
  • you got divorced in a different province, territory, or country.

Here are the answers to some common questions about this.

If you were married in another country, is your marriage valid here?

Generally, if your marriage was valid in the province, territory, or country where it was performed, BC will recognize it as valid as well.

But there are some cases where BC won't recognize your marriage. See the Marriage and Married Spouses page on the JP Boyd on Family Law Wikibook for when a marriage might be considered invalid.

If you were married in another country, can you get a divorce in BC?

You can get divorced in BC if:

  • your marriage is valid in BC,
  • you or your spouse has lived in BC for at least one year, and
  • you satisfy BC's other requirements for getting a divorce.

For a list of the requirements for a divorce, see the Marriage and Married Spouses page on the JP Boyd on Family Law Wikibook.

If you were married in BC, do you have to get your divorce in BC?

No. If you get a valid divorce in a different province, territory, or country, it's valid in BC as well.

But BC law says if you get divorced in a different country, your divorce is only valid if you or your spouse lived in that country for at least one year before the divorce was granted.

And see Getting a divorce if your home country doesn't recognize your same-sex marriage if:

  • you're in a same-sex marriage,
  • your home country doesn't recognize your marriage, and
  • you want a divorce.

If you get divorced outside of BC, is your divorce valid in BC?

Yes. BC law says if you get divorced in a different country, your divorce is valid if you or your spouse lived in that country for at least one year before you started divorce proceedings.

Is your annulment valid in BC?

If your annulment is legally valid in the province, territory, or country where it was granted, it's valid in BC.

But an annulment that comes from a religious authority (instead of a court) isn't valid in BC.

If your divorce was started in BC but you live in another country, how do you know if you're officially divorced?

Call the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings for Canada, in Ottawa. They can tell you:

  • if you have a divorce order, and
  • where it's filed.

See How do I get my divorce certificate? on the Courthouse Services website to find out:

  • how to contact the Central Registry, and
  • how to get a copy of your final divorce order.