Mariah Carey and James Packer are engaged, but still married?

Congratulations to singer-songwriter Mariah Carey and Australian businessman James Packer ontheir engagement last week! However, before the newly engaged couple can commence their nuptials, they both must divorce their current spouses.

TMZ reported Nick Cannon, Mariah's current husband filed divorce papers in New York, their place of residence, last January. However, the two are still embroiled in the divorce process as they have yet to settle some issues arising from the separation.

James and Erica married in their native Australia separated in 2013, but have yet to finalize their divorce in the Australian courts.

How could this situation play out if Mariah and James wanted to get married in Ontario?

It is not necessary to be a Canadian citizen nor Ontario resident to marry in Ontario and obtain a marriage licence. Since Mariah and James are both adults, consenting to marry each other, are not related by blood or adoption, and are likely to be physically present for the wedding, they potentially meet all the legal requirements to marry in Ontario save one. The biggest legal barrier they face is if they are currently legally married to other people. Under Ontario law, if a spouse's first marriage is recognized as a legal marriage in Ontario, then bigamy renders a second marriage void.

For a foreign marriage to be recognized in Ontario, it must meet the following conditions:

  1. The parties are mentally competent and meet the age requirements;
  2. The marriage is legal under the laws of the country where the marriage occurred;
  3. The parties are not closely related by blood or adoption; and
  4. There is no previous subsisting marriage such that the parties are not free to marry.

Mariah and Nick married in Bahamas whereas James married Erica in Australia. Both countries appear to have similar marriage requirements that meet the conditions above. Thus, unfortunately for Mariah and James, it highly likely that their current marriages are recognized as legal marriages under Ontario Law. As such, they will have to wait until their divorces are finalized before tying the knot.

Once Mariah and James do get their divorces however, there's one more step they may have to take. Section 8 of the Ontario Marriage Act requires previously married parties provide proof of divorce in order to re-marry. Since Mariah and James are seeking divorces outside of Canada, they would have to provide a letter from a lawyer certifying that the grounds of divorce the respective countries are comparable to the grounds of divorce as enumerated in section 8 of Canada's Divorce Act. Only if the New York and Australian grounds for granting a divorce are analogous to Canada's will Ontario law recognize her foreign divorce in the province.

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