|Image taken from Wikimedia Commons|
The Canadian Government has introduced a Bill into Parliament amending the Civil Marriage Act. The amendments are intended to address concerns raised in a recent case involving a lesbian couple who are not residents of Canada but who were married in Canada. Unable to divorce where they reside, they turned to the Canadian courts to seek a divorce.
It is estimated that more than 5,000 non-resident same sex couples have been married in Canada, which has no requirement of residence or citizenship for marriage. It is believed that almost all of those same sex couples were unable to marry where they resided. The Canadian Government lawyer in the recent case had argued that the divorce could not be granted because (a) the marriage was not valid under Canadian law because it had not been valid under the laws of their home jurisdictions when performed, and (b) because only Canadian residents can be divorced in Canada.
The Bill provides that all marriages that are otherwise valid in Canada are valid even if the parties lack the capacity to marry under the law of the jurisdiction where they reside. The Bill is fully retroactive.
The Bill also provides greater access to divorce for same sex couples. If a couple married in Canada is unable to divorce in their home jurisdiction, they will be able to seek a divorce in the Canadian courts. However, the only grounds recognized will be separation for one year, and the only relief available will be a dissolution of the marriage.
The Bill is expected to pass.
As reported by Douglas Elliott on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (SOGI) list from Toronto, Canada