USA Today has reported that George Clooney, 53, married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, 36, this past weekend in Venice, Italy. The ceremony was held at a seven-star hotel and had many celebrity guests, including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts.
In Ontario, the validity of a marriage is governed both by provincial and federal legislation. The federal Parliament has authority to legislate with respect to the "capacity" to marry. As such, the following six criteria must be met:
- The parties must be "two persons";
- Both parties must have the capacity to consent to the marriage, that is:
a. Capacity to understand,
b. Be free from duress, and
c. Without taking account of reservations about or limited purposes of marriage;
- The parties must have the capacity to consummate the marriage;
- The parties must not be within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity (as now defined in the federal Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act;
- The parties must not be a partner to an existing valid marriage; and
- The parties must have attained the age required for a valid marriage.
Furthermore, the provinces have jurisdiction to legislate in relation to the formal validity of marriage. Adherence to these formalities in provincial statutes, such as Ontario's Marriage Act, is a condition of a valid marriage. These formalities include banns/licences/permits, the authority of marriage officers, parental consent (where necessary), witnesses, and the registration of marriages.
Section 31 of the Marriage Act provides that if the parties intended the marriage to be in compliance with the law of the Province, then the marriage may be considered valid, despite not meeting the formalities of the Province.
Although George Clooney was married abroad, the marriage would be considered valid in Ontario if George Clooney was a resident of Ontario as the federal criteria regarding validity and the provincial formalities seem to have all been met. Sorry ladies.