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Getting married abroad: will your marriage be recognized in Quebec?

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Family law

Many Quebecers fantasize about getting married abroad, whether it would be: alongside the majestic views of the Caribbean Sea; or in a beautiful castle on the French Riviera; or simply in their country of origin in the presence of their extended family. Regardless of the variety of destinations that is offered and available to us, it is important to ensure that the marriage will ultimately be recognized in Quebec.

While the vast majority of marriages performed abroad are recognized in Quebec, it is imperative to verify that the conditions of validity have, indeed, been met.

Verifying the Conditions of Validity of a Marriage Abroad

In fact, marriage is governed by the laws of the place of celebration, or the laws of Québec, should the spouses be Quebecers. In fact, each country has its own requirements, regarding the formalities to be observed.

Furthermore, marriage must comply with the country’s formal requirements, regarding the regulations pertaining to the manner of celebration.

The marriage must also comply with the applicable conditions, meaning that marriage should respect Quebec law: respecting the parties’ minimum age of 16; the fact that the parties’ consent must be given only in a free and enlightened manner; the absence of a previous marital bond; and the absence of family ties prohibited by law.

Once the spouses have returned to Quebec, it is strongly advised for them to insert into the Quebec civil status registry the Act regarding their change of civil status as obtained abroad. To do this, the spouses must show proof of residence, accompanied by their foreign marriage certificate. Moreover, should the marriage certificate be written in a language other than French or English, it will need to be officially translated, by a member of the Order of translators, terminologists and interpreters of Quebec.

Sonia Rotondo, Attorney-at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats Inc.

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