28-year old singer/actress, Hilary Duff, and 35-year old retired hockey player, Mike Comrie, recently finalized their divorce January 28, 2016. Duff, originally from Houston, Texas, and Comrie, from Edmonton, Alberta, married in Santa Barbara, California, in August of 2010 and it was a Los Angeles court that finally granted the couple's divorce approximately two years after their 2014 separation.
Since Duff and Comrie are both young, successful, attractive people, it can be expected that this will not likely be the last serious relationship for either of them. When interviewed for the February issue of Redbook, Duff was asked for her thoughts on whether she would remarry in the future. Although, Duff said that she might marry again if she "felt strongly enough toward someone or if someone felt strongly about it," she indicated she did not feel the need to remarry. Comrie, on the other hand, might be more likely to remarry in future.
Comrie's father remarried after a first marriage to Comrie's mother and, given reports of Comrie's alleged partying and early attempts to pick up other women in 2015, it seems likely that former NHL player may follow in his father's footsteps. Since Comrie's family mostly resides in Canada, it would not be much of a leap to anticipate the possibility that he might wish to remarry in Canada one day. This raises the question of whether Comrie and Duff's Californian divorce would be recognized as valid in Canada, thus allowing Comrie to legally remarry.
In order to get legally married in Canada, the Solemnisation of Marriage Act requires couples to obtain a marriage licence or certificate. Although said requirement may not apply to a marriage taking place in a church, mosque, or synagogue, couples getting married elsewhere must apply to obtain a marriage licence from the province or territory in which they will be married. In completing a marriage licence application, couples must provide their proposed marriage date, proof of identification, and proof of current marital status (i.e. proof that neither person is already married to someone else). Anyone who has been legally married before should keep in mind that a marriage licence cannot be obtained until the divorce from the previous marriage is finalised or the previous spouse is deceased.
Previously married individuals must prove that they are legally divorced, which can ordinarily be done by providing an original or court-certified copy of one or more of the following documents if the divorce was obtained in Canada:
- Final decree;
- Final judgment; or
- Certificate of divorce.
It is important to note that requirements for marriage licences may vary between provinces and territories and some, such as Ontario and Newfoundland will require additional information and confirmation if a divorce was obtained outside of the province. For example, if a divorce was obtained outside of Canada, Ontario requires divorced individuals to submit the following documents, which must first be validated by the government, before a marriage licence may be issued:
- Completed and signed Marriage Licence Application;
- A Statement of Sole Responsibility for each divorce, which must be signed by both soon-to-be spouses and witnessed;
- A legal opinion letter from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both soon-to-be spouses, stating reasons that the divorce or annulment should be recognized in Ontario; and
- An original or court-certified copy of the divorced person's divorce decree or annulment. Said document must be in English or French unless accompanied by a certified English or French translation and the sworn affidavit of the certified translator who produced same.
What does this mean for someone like Mike Comrie who has obtained his final divorce in California or somewhere else outside of Canada?
Divorcees like Comrie, who have gotten divorced outside of Canada, should plan ahead to ensure they have sufficient time to obtain all required documents, with any necessary translations, and appropriate government validation of same well in advance of the planned date of remarriage. It is important to note that this may take many weeks or months to complete.
Comrie and others in his place must keep in mind that some foreign divorces may not have all necessary elements to be recognized in Ontario.