Many Quebec couples dream about having a destination wedding, some marry a foreign national and choose to celebrate their marriage abroad, at the spouses’ home country.
Whatever your situation may be, there are certain rules that will apply, which you should be aware of prior to your big day.
First and foremost, each country has their own rules and requirements with respect to marriages that you need to comply with.
Will your international marriage be valid in Canada? Generally, yes. As long as the marriage is legal according to the rules where the wedding takes place and complies with Canadian federal law. For example you cannot marry a close relative (by blood or adoption) and you cannot be married to more than one person at a time. If you are from Quebec, there are a few additional conditions: you need to be over 16 years-old, and your consent to marry must be free and enlightened.
If as a Quebequer you get married abroad, you do not need to validate your marriage upon your return to Quebec. However, it is a good idea to add your marriage certificate to the Civil Status Registry in Quebec. Furthermore, if you have not chosen a foreign matrimonial regime and have not signed a marriage contract, the default matrimonial regime in Quebec, partnership of acquests will apply. Since you reside in Quebec, the rules of the Family Patrimony will also apply regardless if you selected a different matrimonial regime or not.
However, rules are slightly different for a Quebequer who is marrying a foreign national abroad, and it will depend on the spouses domiciles at the time of the marriage. According to article 3089 of the Civil Code of Quebec, if you are domiciled in different states or countries, your matrimonial regime will be the one of their first common residence. Failing that, the applicable law will be the one of their last common residence. If you never lived together, the law of the celebration of the marriage will apply. If the couple moves to Quebec and your first common domicile was abroad, your matrimonial regime will be the one from your first common domicile, however, the rules of Family Patrimony will still apply.
In the event of a separation or divorce, it can be very challenging to decipher your matrimonial regime and if the rules of international private law will apply to you and in many cases, you may have to request that an international matrimonial regime be applied in order to partition the assets that are not included in the Family Patrimony.
It is important to highlight that in order to be able to institute divorce proceedings in Quebec, one of you needs to have been living in the province for at least one year. However, you can issue an application for Separation from bed and board without having to respect the one year delay.