Marriage in Canada
The Government of Canada has exclusive authority governing marriage and divorce in Canada under section 91(26) of the Constitution Act, 1867. However section 92(12) of the Act gives the provinces the power to pass laws regulating the solemnization of marriage.
Marriages in Canada can be either civil or religious. Marriages may be performed by members of the clergy, marriage commissioners, judges, justices of the peace or clerks of the court. In 2001, the majority of Canadian marriages (76.4%) were religious, with the remainder (23.6%) being performed by non-clergy.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada nationally since 2005. Court decisions, starting in 2003, had already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories.
The federal Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act (S.C. 1990, c. 46)  prevents the following persons from getting married:
- 2. (1) Subject to subsection (2), persons related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption are not prohibited from marrying each other by reason only of their relationship.
- (2) No person shall marry another person if they are related
- (a) lineally by consanguinity or adoption;
- (b) as brother and sister by consanguinity, whether by the whole blood or by the half-blood; or
- (c) as brother and sister by adoption.
The provinces set additional rules governing who can get married.
- In Alberta, anyone 18 or over can get married. A person between the ages of 16 and 17 can get married with the consent of both parents. No one under 16 can get married; this does not apply to a female if a physician's certificate shows she is pregnant or the mother of a living child. There is no requirement for residency.
- In British Columbia, anyone 19 or over can get married. A person between the ages of 16 and 18 can get married with the consent of both parents. Under the age of 16, a person needs the consent of the Supreme or County Court. There is no requirement for residency.
- In Ontario, both parties must be 18 or over to obtain a marriage licence. A person who is 16 or 17 can get married with the consent of both parents. In order to get married, the parties need to obtain a marriage licence or to arrange for the banns to be published. There is no requirement for residency.
- In Québec, the legal age for marriage is 16, but unemancipated minors require parental permission to marry. Marriage is governed by the Civil Code of Québec.
- In New Brunswick, anyone 18 or over can get married. A never-married person aged 16 or 17 may marry with parental consent.
- Age restrictions are the same for opposite-sex and same-sex marriages.
A divorce may be granted for one of the following reasons:
- the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and the two parties have been living apart for a year (s.8(2)(a) of the Act)
- one party has committed adultery (s.8(2)(b)(i) of the Act)
- one party has treated the other party "with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses" (s.8(2)(b)(ii) of the Act)
Key headings of the Divorce Act:
- Child support orders
- Spousal support orders
- Custody orders
- Variation, rescission or suspension of orders
- Provisional orders
Rates by year
|Divorce Rate (per 100,000 residents per year) in Canada, by year|
In Canada, polygamy is a criminal offence but prosecutions are rare. As of January 2009, no person has been prosecuted for polygamy in Canada in over sixty years. In 2007, an independent prosecutor in British Columbia recommended that Canadian courts be asked to rule on the constitutionality of laws against polygamy. The Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld Canada's polygamy laws in a 2011 reference case.
In 1856 law set by the Canadian's First Nations Métis peoples dictates that a marriage proposal must be completed by the giving of bands from one individual to another, these bands are made from the ancient Abies bifolia (Rocky Mountain Subalpine Fir), although due to deforestation and social evolution these have been replaced with the more commonly available fabric bands. Original bands were soaked in the South Saskatchewan River for 38 days to cleanse the material. Providing that this is consummated by both parties this is legally binding according to the beliefs of the Métis people set by leader Gabriel Dumont.
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- Interpretation. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Jurisdiction. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Divorce. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Child support orders. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Spousal support orders. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Priority. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Custody orders. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Variation, rescission or suspension of orders. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Provisional orders. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- Appeals. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- General. Canadian Legal Information Institute.
- "Divorce and suicide rates, per 100,000, Canada, 1950 to 2008". Statistics Canada.
- Section 293, "Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46", Statutes and Regulations of Canada (Federal) (Canadian Legal Information Institute), retrieved 2011-12-05
- Lak, Daniel (January 21, 2009). "Canada's polygamy legislation". CBC News. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- Dowd, Allan (August 1, 2007). "Canada urged to review legality of polygamy ban". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- "Canada's polygamy laws upheld by B.C. Supreme Court". CBC News. November 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- "Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada", 2011 BCSC 1588, Canadian Legal Information Institute