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Family Lawyer Winnipeg Blog

A brief discussion on Canadian family laws

Every person shares a special bond with his/ her family. They say- “home is where the heart is” and heart lives where the family lives. Sometimes for some intentional or unintentional mistakes and misunderstandings, the relation gets worse.

That is when state law needs to take over to settle the familial problems. For example, marriage, same-sex marriage, unmarried partners, divorce, annulment, property division, child support, spousal support/ alimony, domestic violence, etc.

Keep reading this article if you want to get an overview of Canadian family laws.

Types of Canadian family laws

The Family Law Act was passed in the Ontario province in 1990 by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It controls:-

  • Property division (sections 4-16)
  • Inheritance, prenuptial and separation agreements
  • Matrimonial home (sections 17-28)
  • Spouse and other dependents (children, old relatives, etc.) (sections 29-49)
  • Some domestic contracts (sections 51-60), etc.

Since then, there were many changes and modifications to fulfil the demand of time and generation.

For instance, section 29 was modified regarding same-sex marriages. Previously, it said only about heterosexual marriages and their rights. But now, same-sex marriages have been legalized, and eventually, the law has been modified to serve the rightful purposes regarding the property, alimony, and child adoptions.

In January 2020, the law on the division of property and other things between live-in partners has been set. So, with the time being, new family laws will emerge, and old rules will be modified.

1. Marriage

It is illegal in Canada to be married to one spouse at a time after a divorce. However, after the death of the better-half is okay.

  • In Canada, you cannot get married if you are married to another person, whether the marriage is abusive or not. there are few marital crimes to be noted-
  • It is a crime to take part, help or sponsor child marriage.
  • It is a crime to force someone to get married.
  • Trickily help or get married to someone without their consent.
  • To avoid Canadian law, take someone to another country under 18 years old and force them to marry, is also considered to be a crime.

It is a crime in Canada to get married for only getting a residence or permanent citizenship in Canada. It is called marriage fraud. To avoid these kinds of fraud, as a Canadian, you should not get married to some foreigner, you just met. Talk to them, try to know them, check documents.

Sometimes, you can be tricked to sponsor them financially. So before marriage, talk to your lawyer and ask for their expert suggestions.

If you are facing any of the frauds and forcible marriage, ask for help from the police.

2. Divorce

The divorce act is a federal law. It can only be approved in civil court. You cannot just file for your divorce out of the blue for your advantages.

In 1985, the law stated after some changes that a petition for divorce can only be filed for dissolution of marriage, such as adultery, domestic violence, or whether the spouses live apart for a year, etc.

There are some grounds your case needs to fulfill before approving the divorce. Such as-

  • You and your spouse are apart for more than 1 year or more.
  • Your marriage has broken down, and nothing can save it anymore.
  • Your spouse is mentally disabled, and this is hurting your mental health.
  • Your spouse is committing adultery.
  • Your spouse is abusing you mentally, physically, or sexually.

If you apply for the divorce according to the one-year separation rule, then you can stay together for 90 days. If still, it does not reconcile your issues, you can continue the divorce procedure.

Sometimes for accommodation problems, the separated couple still can stay under one roof, but in these cases, you need to talk to your lawyer about rules and regulations.

3. Annulment

When one of the partners is underage, physically or mentally impaired, faulty marriage ceremony, etc., a marriage may be annulled. It is done to prevent legal drag and intervention.

4. Division of property

Under old Common Law and Property Law, the husband was entitled to control and administer the properties of the wife. During the 1890s married women were granted the right to retain their husband’s separate property status.

That doesn’t make marriage less of a concern, with permission from the partner, the other one can handle the property with ease.

5. Child and spousal support

Child care and spousal assistance fell under the territorial legislature. A partner is usually financially obliged to support his / her children. There may be variance set by policy following divorce. Upon divorce, the court developed the guidelines as to how much financial aids were either accepted or changed.

6. Custody

If the child is under 18 years old, the father or mother needs to take their custody after separation. It depends on the financial, mental, and physical ability to raise a child to have custody.

The child can ask for one of its parents as its sole custodian. If there are two or more children, then every one of the parents needs to take care of at least one of the children.

If another parent is abusive or improper to take care of a child, then the rule can be broken. The bottom line is whatever is good and healthy for the child’s life, and upbringing will be considered.

7. Domestic violence cases

It is domestic violence if you mentally, physically, or sexually hurt any of the members of your house- it could be your child or your spouse. Forced sex with any child, wife, partner, girlfriend or boyfriend is also a crime.

  • If you hit, punch, kick your child or partner, it is a crime.
  • If you threaten to hurt or kill someone in exchange to find an advantage is a crime.
  • If you sexually assault a child, it is a crime
  • If you assault anyone mentally or physically

If you face or witness any of this domestic violence, call the police.

8. Adoption

The first thing you need to have is the financial stability to adopt and raise the adopted child. You also need to be mentally and physically able and fit to ask for adoption. There are other needs such as-

  • If you already need to carry court order alimony or child support and there is no way you can sponsor more child, you cannot adopt.
  • If you have criminal records of abuse any person or animal, your path will be difficult on adoption.
  • If you are not living in Canada and plan to move to another country, then you need to collect certain documents that you will not leave the child, and if you do, you will be taken under custody.
  • If you are planning to adopt based on the intercountry theme, then you must build a parent-child relationship with the child before adopting, so that he’ she could leave their country with you without any major pressure. The child’s consent is a major issue. So be sure to be with the best terms with your future adopted child.


Canadian family laws are made to make your familial and conjugal life more comfortable and easier. If anything is bothering you as a partner or child, talk to your lawyer and ask for legal help.

Every citizen deserves to have justice regardless of gender, age, and types of marriage (heterosexual, same-sex marriage, live-ins, etc.). Hope this article helps you to know your rights and duties in your family.