Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Marriage in Canada

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

The Parliament of Canada has exclusive legislative authority over marriage and divorce in Canada under section 91(26) of the Constitution Act, 1867. However section 92(12) of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the provincial legislatures the power to pass laws regulating the solemnization of marriage.


In 2001 there were 146,618 marriages in Canada, down 6.8% from 157,395 in 2000. Prince Edward Island had the highest crude marriage rate (6.5 per 1,000 people) and Quebec had the lowest (3.0).

Marriage ceremonies 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, depending on the laws of each province and territory regulating marriage solemnization. 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 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 lineally, or as brother or sister or half-brother or half-sister, including by adoption.

Consent of the spouses

Both parties must freely consent. Forcing somebody to get married is a criminal offense under s. 293.1 of the Criminal Code. In addition, s. 2.1 of the Civil Marriage Act stipulates, "Marriage requires the free and enlightened consent of two persons to be the spouse of each other."

Age of the spouses

The minimum marriageable age throughout Canada is 16. In Canada the age of majority is set by province/territory at 18 or 19, so minors under this age have additional restrictions (i.e. parental and court consent). Section 293.2 of the Criminal Code also addresses marriages of individuals under the age of 16, reading: Everyone who celebrates, aids or participates in a marriage rite or ceremony knowing that one of the persons being married is under the age of 16 years is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. Section 2.2 of the Civil Marriage Act also states: No person who is under the age of 16 years may contract marriage.


Termination of marriage in Canada is covered by the federal Divorce Act.

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:

  • Interpretation
  • Jurisdiction
  • Divorce
  • Child support orders
  • Spousal support orders
  • Priority
  • Custody orders
  • Variation, rescission or suspension of orders
  • Provisional orders
  • Appeals
  • General
  • Polygamy

    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.


    Marriage in Canada Wikipedia

    Similar Topics
    Waging a Living
    Scott Brown (golfer)
    Liz Marlantes