Divorce and Immigration

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Persons who were married in another country, before immigrating to Quebec, can obtain a divorce in Quebec if they meet certain conditions. It may even be easier to obtain a divorce in Quebec than in the place they were married. For example, in Quebec (as well as in the rest of Canada) it is possible for someone to obtain a divorce even if their spouse disagrees.

Divorce in Quebec

To get divorced in Quebec, couples must meet these two requirements:

Divorce in Quebec or Somewhere Else

Which Laws Apply to the Divorce

Even when couples agree to get divorced in Quebec, laws from other countries can apply along with Quebec laws.

For example, couples can ask a Quebec court to apply a matrimonial regime from another country when dividing the value of some of their property.

Which Court Hears the Case

Sometimes one of the spouses wants to get divorced in Quebec, but the other wants to get divorced in another country. This might happen if the laws of the other country are better for one person.

If each spouse starts divorce proceedings in a different country and challenges the steps the other one is taking, then each court will have to decide these questions:

  • whether it will hear the divorce case and give a decision (either partial or complete) or let a court in another country handle the case instead
  • which laws it should use to decide the case.

Recognition of a Divorce From Another Country

A court decision from another country granting a divorce will not always be recognized in Quebec. Similarly, a divorce decision from Quebec will not always be recognized in another country.

You can contact a legal professional to learn whether your divorce decision will be recognized, especially if your former spouse is challenging it.

Effect of Divorce on Immigration Status

Sponsored person awaiting permanent residence

If the person being sponsored becomes divorced from the sponsor, the application for permanent residence will be rejected. In this situation, the person who was being sponsored will have to find some other way to regularize their immigration status or will have to leave Canada.

Sponsored person who has already obtained permanent residence

Once a sponsored person has obtained permanent residence, a divorce will have no impact on their immigration status.

Even though the couple is now divorced, the ex-spouse who signed the sponsorship will remain financially responsible for the sponsored person’s essential needs (for example, food and shelter) for a period of three years, starting from the date the sponsored person obtained their permanent residence.

Refugee claimant (asylum seeker)

A divorce will have no impact on the right of each ex-spouse to claim refugee status in Canada. However, there may be an impact on the reasons supporting the refugee claim. This could be the case, for example, if one spouse was basing their claim on persecution suffered by the other spouse. It would be important for each ex-spouse to discuss this matter with their legal representative.

If the spouses claimed refugee status together, their files will be separated.

Protected Person (accepted refugee)

A divorce will have no impact on the immigration status of a protected person, that is, a person whose refugee claim has already been accepted.