The Role of Religion in Separation/Divorce
Religious Divorce & Legal Separation in Ontario
Separating spouses who are religious may also want to pursue a religious divorce, according to the tenets of their faith. Some religions do not permit divorce, while in others the power to grant the divorce rests with the parties themselves, and specifically with the husband.
Canadian courts will deal with your legal separation and all corollary issues regardless of what your faith dictates about your ability to separate, divorce, or remarry. Either spouse can apply for a divorce under Canadian law, or for property division, spousal support, or child custody. You are also free to remarry in a civil ceremony regardless of whether or not such remarriage is permitted in your religion.
Although Canadian law cannot interfere with religious customs or laws, and cannot grant a religious divorce, courts will prevent one spouse from using the religious divorce as a bargaining chip in the legal separation or divorce process. If you are trying to separate from your spouse and deal with corollary issues of support, property division, and child custody and access, but your spouse is withholding consent to religious divorce in order to influence the separation process, you can apply to the courts to intervene.
Federal & Provincial Law Regarding Religious Remarriage
Section 21.1 of the federal Divorce Act and section 2 of Ontario’s Family Law Act both stipulate that if one spouse is refusing to remove bars to religious remarriage, the other spouse can serve on the court and the offending spouse an affidavit stating what their spouse is doing. The other spouse then has either 10 or 15 days (depending on which Act the spouse relies on) to remove all bars within that person’s control, and to serve on the court an affidavit to that effect, or to file an affidavit outlining genuine religious or conscientious grounds for their refusal to remove religious barriers. If this is not done, the offending spouse can have their claims, or their defence, struck.
(Note: The court cannot enforce its authority in this manner if the power to remove the barrier resides in the hands of a religious body or official. This part of the Act is only applicable when the power to remove the barrier lies with the respondent.)
If religion is playing a role in your separation, divorce, or remarriage, Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. can provide experienced counsel. Our Ontario divorce lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and options and can work with you to achieve your goals.
To learn more, call (905) 581-7222. We serve Oakville, Markham, Vaughan, Mississauga, and the surrounding areas across Ontario.
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.