Can I Get Divorced If My Spouse Lives in Another Country?

Richmond Tymchuk Family Law

Can I Get Divorced If My Spouse Lives in Another Country?

Richmond Tymchuk Family Law

According to Statistics Canada, there were 2,338 divorces involving at least one spouse living outside Canada in 2019, accounting for 1.6% of all divorces in the country. Many Canadian residents find themselves in this complex situation, either due to marrying a foreign national or relocating abroad for work or personal reasons.

If you live in Alberta and want to know if you can get divorced when your spouse lives in another country, the answer is yes, as long as you meet the divorce requirements set forth by Canadian law. Here is a guide to help you understand the process of getting a divorce when dealing with an overseas spouse.

Meeting Alberta's Divorce Requirements

To initiate a divorce in Alberta, you must meet these divorce requirements:

  • Residency: You or your spouse must have resided in Alberta for at least one year before filing for divorce.
  • Legal Grounds for divorce: If you meet any one of the following criteria, then you have the necessary legal grounds for divorce:
    • Lived apart from your spouse for one year or more.
    • Experienced physical or mental cruelty from your spouse.
    • Your spouse committed adultery.

Understand the Process of International Divorce

Getting a divorce when your spouse lives in another country adds an additional layer of complexity to your divorce. You will have to consider different legal systems and often different legal cultures and languages. Consult with a family law firm with experience in international divorces to help you navigate the nuances of cross-border divorce. Your divorce lawyer can guide you through the process and help you understand the legal procedures and potential challenges that may arise and can ensure that you’re protecting your rights.

Important Things to Know About Divorcing a Spouse That Lives Overseas

  • International Laws: The legal landscape changes significantly when your spouse resides in another country. It's essential to understand both Canadian and foreign divorce laws, as each jurisdiction has unique requirements and procedures.

  • Jurisdictional Issues: Identifying the right jurisdiction for your divorce is crucial, especially if you and your spouse have ties to different countries. The choice of jurisdiction affects the enforcement of divorce orders, property division, and child custody and support.

  • Service of Documents: One of the challenges of getting a divorce from an overseas spouse is serving them with the divorce papers. You must first obtain an order permitting you to serve documents filed in Alberta in the jurisdiction in which your spouse resides.  You must also follow the rules of service of the country where your spouse lives, which may vary from the rules of Canada. Some countries may require you to serve the documents through a central authority, while others may allow you to use a private process server or a courier. You may also need to translate the documents into the official language of the country where your spouse lives.

Get Help for Your Foreign Divorce

Navigating a divorce across international borders can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with legal complexities and the emotional aspects of ending a marriage. Seeking professional help from a family lawyer with experience in international divorces can provide you with the necessary guidance and support throughout the process.

If you are ready to start your divorce process, contact us today and let us help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

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