Different Cultural Practices & Canadian Law
Varying Practices & Laws May Affect Your Ontario Divorce or Separation
At times, various cultural practices may conflict with Canadian law relating to marriage, separation, and divorce. When this happens, it is important to know how different cultural practices and the laws of other jurisdictions interact with Canadian law.
Canadian law will recognize marriages performed in other countries, provided they were valid in the country in which they were performed. If you are seeking to separate and suspect your marriage may never have been valid in the first place, you should consult with a lawyer. An Ontario family law lawyer at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. can help you determine if you should pursue separation, or whether you can obtain an annulment.
A marriage that takes place in Canada must comply with Canadian legal requirements regarding validity. The parties must be over the age of majority (18 in Ontario), or over 16 with parental permission. In addition, the parties must freely consent to the marriage.
If your marriage was not valid, you can seek an annulment, which is a declaration that a marriage is void. When a marriage is declared void, it is declared to legally have never existed. You therefore do not need to go through the process of separation and divorce, and you are free to remarry at any time.
Another legal requirement of marriage in Canada is that both parties be present. In one Canadian case, the spouses participated in a “proxy marriage,” in which one of the spouses was not physically present. The court found that marriage to be void – in other words, no marriage ever came into existence.
In many cultures, arranged marriages are accepted practice. Arranged marriages are perfectly legal in Canada, provided they are consented to by the parties. Forced marriages are not legal. If you have been forced into a marriage, you can apply to the court to declare the marriage void. However, in order to be seen as “forced,” you must have felt you had no option but to comply – you must have been acting without free will. If there has been duress or coercion to the extent that you had reason to be afraid for your own safety and security and felt threatened into marriage, that marriage will be voidable. Simply feeling pressure to marry a chosen spouse does not invalidate consent.
Canadian Spouses Have Equal Rights in a Separation or Divorce
When it comes to separation, and all forms of corollary relief (support, child custody and access, property division), different cultures have different customs and expectations regarding what each spouse is entitled to. However, courts will accord the same rights to all spouses. Under Canadian law, spouses are equally entitled to support, division of property, and child custody.
Looking to learn more about how cultural practices or the laws of other jurisdictions may affect your separation? Call (905) 581-7222 to speak with an Ontario separation lawyer about your case.
Andrew Feldstein Founder
Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.
Daphna Schwartz Lawyer
Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously practising family law in the Barrie area. Her practice includes all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and property issues. Daphna is also qualified to practise Collaborative Family Law.
Anna Troitschanski Lawyer
Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
Nick Slinko Lawyer
Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and Philosophy. Nick graduated in 2007 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree. He proceeded to earn a Juris Doctor in Law at the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Nick was Called to the Bar in June of 2012 after completing his Articling term with the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. He became an associate with the firm immediately thereafter.
Veronica Yeung Lawyer
Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.
Veronica attended York University for her undergraduate studies and graduated as a member of the Dean’s Honour Roll when she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Honours Criminology.
Shana Gordon-Katz Lawyer
Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.
Shana attended the University of Western Ontario for her undergraduate studies, where she graduated as the gold medalist of her program, Honors Specialization in Classical Studies.
Rachel Zweig Lawyer
Rachel joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C as a Summer Student in 2019 and returned as an Articling Student in 2020-2021. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in April 2021, Rachel was welcomed back to the firm as an Associate.
Prior to completing her legal studies and obtaining her Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa, Rachel obtained her Bachelor’s Degree at Ryerson University with a major in English Literature.
Lauren Harvey Associate Lawyer
Lauren joined Feldstein Family Law Group as a Summer Student in 2020 and returned as an Articling Student in 2021-2022. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in April 2022, Lauren was welcomed back to the firm as an Associate.
Prior to completing her legal studies and obtaining her Juris Doctor at the University of Western Ontario, Lauren obtained her Honour’s Bachelor of Arts Degree at Wilfrid Laurier University majoring in Criminology and minoring in Law and Society.
Quinn Held Associate Lawyer
Quinn spent two years as a Summer Student and then completed her Articling term at a boutique Family Law firm in Orangeville, where she was exposed to various complex Family Law matters. Following her Call to the Bar of Ontario in June 2022, she became an Associate with the Feldstein Family Law Group.
Prior to obtaining her Juris Doctor from the University of Windsor, Quinn obtained her Honour’s Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Guelph majoring in Criminal Justice and Public Policy and minoring in International Development.