Obtaining A Legal Opinion Letter To Remarry In Ontario
People living in Ontario who marry Canadians or people from other countries who have not been married previously simply need to apply for a marriage license in the province or territory where they reside. In the case of a prior marriage, all Canadians must provide the required Divorce Certificate from a Canadian province or territory before the marriage license can be approved and provided.
For people in Ontario who have been divorced in another country and wish to remarry in the province, there is an additional document that is required. This is called a Legal Opinion Letter or a Foreign Divorce Opinion Letter. These letters can only be obtained through an Ontario lawyer before applying for a marriage certificate.
Where to Find the Right Lawyer?
In the province of Ontario, most family lawyers provide Letters of Opinion for people who have divorced outside of Canada and wish to remarry in the province. Divorce Go provides Legal Opinion Letters at a cost of $199.00 plus HST in most cases and we offer same-day service. Divorce Go also allow for online applications for these essential documents, and which can make it very convenient to obtain the necessary documentation.
It is important to note that an Opinion Letter cannot be written on your own behalf, and business or personal references cannot be used. Additionally, a letter from a religious leader is not considered valid as an Opinion Letter or to provide the necessary documentation of a foreign divorce.
An Opinion Letter for a foreign divorce can only be written by a lawyer practicing in the province who has the authorization from the Law Society of Ontario to provide this type of documentation. Lawyers must follow specific protocols and procedures before writing and signing off on the document, including verifying all information provided by the party applying for the Opinion Letter.
If you are interested in obtaining additional support for a marriage, including developing a prenuptial agreement, also known as a marriage contract, be sure to verify the law firm is able to provide these services. Working with one law firm for all your family law needs is much easier and more convenient than having multiple lawyers for different aspects of your family law needs.
What Does the Lawyer Do?
The requirement for an Opinion Letter is not just a formality; it is required to ensure the divorce from the previous spouse is considered valid within the province. The lawyer preparing the Opinion Letter will review the marriage and divorce laws in the country where the divorce was filed, and ensure the divorce is considered legal and binding in that location.
The lawyer will include a list of reasons in the letter why the foreign divorce is considered valid under the legal requirements for divorce in the province of Ontario. The Registrar General of Ontario then reviews the Opinion Letter and grants the approval for the marriage license. It is not possible to obtain a marriage license without first submitting the Opinion Letter for one or both people to be married.
What Will I Need to Provide?
For the lawyer in Ontario to be able to draft the Opinion Letter, the applicant must provide specific types of information and documentation. It is important to note, if both parties were divorced outside of Canada, they must each provide separate documentation.
The individuals to the marriage, if applicable, will need to provide the following documentation. All must be in the original form, or it must be authenticated by the court or jurisdiction granting the divorce. Photocopies or scanned copies of documents are not accepted, and illegible or partially destroyed, or damaged copies are also not acceptable for use.
The original divorce documentation for the divorce outside of Canada will need to be included in the application to the Ontario family lawyer. This document is not kept by the attorney and is returned to the individual as soon as the application for the Opinion Letter is processed.
If there is concern about this documentation, or the ability to obtain the necessary documentation, talking to an Ontario family lawyer before submitting any information is highly recommended. This can save time and allow you to have support in knowing what government or agency to contact to obtain the necessary information.
If the divorce decree is written in a language other than English or French, a translated copy must be provided in addition to the original. The translation cannot be completed by one of the applicants for the marriage license. The translation must be certified.
The application also needs to include a marriage license application that has been fully completed and signed by both people intending to marry.
Both people must also sign a Statement of Sole Responsibility. This is required as part of the package and stipulates the parties to the marriage application understand that the granting of the marriage license does not necessarily imply any previous divorce or annulment of a previous marriage is recognized by the province.
How Can I Prove I Have a Substantial Connection to a Foreign Country?
The application must also include proof of meeting the eligibility requirements for a valid divorce outside of Canada by showing a substantial connection to the country granting the divorce. This includes proving one of two different criteria.
The first option includes proving either you or your ex-spouse were living in and a resident of the country where the divorce was granted for at least 12 months. One or both of you must have been living in that country for at least a year prior to the divorce. This eliminates concerns about locations that provide “quick divorces.” These types of divorces are not accepted as legal to allow someone to remarry in Ontario, and they are not accepted in many other jurisdictions around the world. This is critical to prevent someone from marrying in Ontario without being legally divorced from their last spouse.
The other way to provide the proof required is to be able to demonstrate a connection to the country where the divorce was granted or obtained. This is a more subjective criteria, and it may be possible to use one of several options to demonstrate this connection.
People who are born in the same country they were divorced in or those who frequently travel to that country can often demonstrate the necessary connection. In many cases, people have worked in the country, or they may own or have owned property, and this may provide the information needed to document a substantial connection.
How Long Does This Take?
The time it takes to obtain an Opinion Letter depends on the information provided, if all documents are acceptable and if all applications are complete when submitted.
For most applications, the process takes two to four weeks, with issues such as the country granting the divorce and any complicating factors coming into play. It is always recommended to apply for the Opinion Letter well before the need to submit the full application for marriage to the Office of the Registrar General.
How much does a foreign divorce opinion letter cost?
Divorce Go has a flat-rate for providing you with this letter in most cases. If either you or your previous spouse had lived in the country where you were divorced for at least 12 months leading up to the divorce, our fee is $199.00 + HST. If you neither of you lived there for 12 months before the divorce, we will provide you with a foreign divorce opinion letter based on the “substantial connection” test which is lengthier and requires more time. In most cases, this type of letter can be drafted and completed for $500.00 plus HST.