Marry the one you love. Share a home you buy or rent together. Have or adopt children if you so desire.
Axess Law helps you make the changes you want in your life.
Why Get Married
Same-sex marriage in Canada has its benefits.
Besides a companion for (hopefully) life, marriage gives you rights that go beyond living common law in Ontario, like:
- potential financial security
- pension-splitting options when you retire
- parenting time or decision-making responsibility for children you have or step in to parent together
- the right to request exclusive possession of matrimonial homes if you part ways
- spousal or child support
- a right of survivorship to joint bank accounts, investments or other benefits if your spouse dies
- and more.
Getting a Marriage Licence
Let’s start with getting married. You’ll need a marriage licence or publication of church banns in Ontario.
You could elope, but plan ahead if a traditional marriage with invited guests is what you want. You’re eligible to be married if you and your partner are:
- 16 to 17 and have your parents’ or legal guardian’s permission — a signed consent form and your parents’ or guardian’s attendance are required when you apply for your licence
- over 18 and a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, temporary visitor or just passing through Canada.
Canada has no gender, residency, citizenship or medical requirements to obtain a marriage licence. You can apply under any gender ID you prefer: male, female or X for trans, non-binary, two-spirit or binary identities or when you prefer not to say.
Licences are available online or by calling ahead to local civic offices for an appointment. If you just can’t wait and live in Toronto, email firstname.lastname@example.org for quicker assistance.
Arrange the Ceremony
Getting a marriage licence is just the start. Fom protecting premarital assets to planning for parenting, marriage is a work in progress.
You can marry immediately at a civic office of your choice. Plan a family wedding by hiring a marriage officiant to come to your home or go all in with a formal church wedding and reception. Even get married overseas.
You can find marriage officiants at:
- churches or other religious bodies entitled to perform religious marriages in Ontario
- a band, First Nation, Métis or Inuit organization or community or Indigenous entity in Ontario
- municipal court clerk or delegate
- Ontario case management master
- or Ontario justice of the peace.
Making Your Marriage Official
You’re not officially married until a registered or civic marriage officiant declares you so and registers your marriage. You, your spouse, witnesses and the officiant will sign a record of solemnization of marriage at the ceremony. You can apply for a certified marriage certificate six to eight weeks later.
Publishing Banns in Ontario
You may be deeply spiritual and want something more personally meaningful for your marriage.
Your church could declare you legally married by publishing a banns form. Provided your marriage is the first for both of you, you can publicly announce your commitment during a religious service.
Your priest will bless the marriage in front of the congregation, ask if anyone objects and declare you married.
Where to Get Marriage Certificates
When you need proof of legal marriage, order an official marriage certificate through Service Ontario. Certificates show when and where you were married and your spouse’s name. They can be used to change your name, apply for a divorce or as a family memento.
You can apply six to eight weeks after your ceremony, online (www.orgforms.gov.on.ca/eForms) or by mail to:
189 Red River Road
PO Box 4600
Thunder Bay, ON
Divorced singles must provide a certificate of divorce or final decree when applying for a marriage licence. Originals or court-certified copies from the court that granted your divorce will do.
Foreign divorced singles can ask at the Office of the Registrar General Marriage Office, toll free to 1-800-461-2156 (toll-free) or visit ServiceOntario. Axess Law can prepare a foreign divorce opinion letter to verify an international divorce is legal.
Having Your Foreign Marriage Recognized
Foreign marriages that are legally valid in the country where they were performed are recognized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
You will be considered legally married in Canada for purposes of applying to be a permanent resident (sometimes called landed immigrant) or Canadian citizenship. Permanent residents can live and work in Canada without any time limits on their stay.
IRCC doesn’t recognize foreign marriages:
- presided over by anyone who is not a legal marriage officiant, such as a community church pastor not licensed to perform marriages
- that occurred in a country where same-sex marriages are not allowed
- are polygamous
- or were considered a same-sex union, but not marriage.
Your foreign marriage may be deemed a common law partnership for sponsorship purposes and to qualify for government or other benefits.
IRCC may make exceptions for “conjugal” relationships — recent marriage-like unions (under a year) that don’t qualify for common law status under Canadian law. You may not be married, but you will at least be acknowledged as a couple.
You can always get a foreign divorce and remarry in Canada. Axess Law prepares foreign divorce opinion letters to assist couples applying for marriage licences in Ontario.
Changing Your Name
Post marriage, you can change your name to your spouse’s or vice versa, hyphenate your names or leave your surname the way it is.
You can opt to assume your married name by showing a certified marriage certificate to ServiceOntario. Assuming a married name is free. For a fee, you can apply for a formal name change through ServiceOntario.
Your OHIP, Ontario driver’s licence and vehicle registration, social insurance number, passport, Canada Revenue Agency account and banking and insurance information are just the start of the documents you will want to update.
As a married couple, you are welcome to apply to legally adopt a spouse’s biological or adoptive children. In a separation or divorce, you can apply for parenting time (access) with a spouse’s child you treated as your own.
Generally, courts give biological parents decision-making responsibility (custody). But if an Ontario family court decides it’s in the child’s best interests, you may be awarded sole, split (for some but not all children) or joint decision-making responsibility.
That allows you to stay connected to children you care about and have a say in their health, education, spiritual upbringing and well-being.
Trusted, Affordable Legal Services
Before you look around for a same-sex marriage lawyer in Toronto or anywhere in Ontario, talk to us. Axess Law’s family lawyers can write a prenuptial agreement to protect your legal and financial rights.
It’s not too late if you’re already married. Ask us about making a legally binding marriage contract. Deciding issues like joint tenancy vs tenancy in common in advance can preserve your right to matrimonial homes in separation or divorce. Don’t forget investments and pensions. Know how to protect your assets before marriage in Canada.
Our notary publics can help you:
- certify foreign language translations of marriage documents for ServiceOntario or other government applications
- certify true copies of marriage certificates for IRCC
- or witness a statutory declaration of legal marriage if you’ve lost your originals.
Our cheap, flat fee rates for family lawyers or notary publics let you access law services anywhere you are in Ontario.
Book Online or By Phone
Make appointments with our virtual online lawyers or notary services online. Just go to our convenient booking form on the Axess Law home page. For in person appointments at Axess Law locations in Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa, phone our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line or toll free to 1-877-402-4277.
We’re open 7 days a week for day or evening appointments. Ask about our onsite parking and easy transit access.