Foreign Divorces

A recent Ottawa family law case examines when foreign divorces will be recognized by the Ontario courts. In Kadri v. Kadri, the parties were married in Lebanon in 1988 and went on to have 3 children (who are now adults). Although they resided in several different countries during their marriage, they lived in Lebanon from 2002-2010. Subsequent to the husband starting a new relationship, the parties separated. The husband applied for (and obtained) a divorce from Lebanon in 2009.

The wife moved to Canada with her 3 children in 2010 and took up residence in a condominium that had been purchased by her ex-husband . She started family law proceedings in Ontario in 2013 seeking equalization, support, and exclusive possession of the condominium owned by her ex-husband.

Under the Divorce Act, a foreign divorce will be recognized by Canadian law if either spouse had been ordinarily resident in that foreign jurisdiction for the one year period immediately preceding the commencement of divorce proceedings. Once parties are recognized as being divorced according to the laws of another country, it is not open to an ex-spouse to apply under the Divorce Act or the Ontario Family Law Act for corollary relief such as child and spousal support, equalization, or ownership in a family home.

There are instances where a foreign divorce order will not be recognized by Canadian courts. Of significance in recognizing the validity of the foreign divorce in this case, however, was the fact that the wife was given the opportunity through the Lebanese divorce process to both request alimony, and appeal the divorce order. She did neither. The court concluded that it had no jurisdiction to provide relief under Canadian family law when the divorce had already been granted outside of Canada.