Divorce 101 FAQs

Can a spouse refuse to take steps to remove religious barriers to remarriage?

When a couple decides that they want to obtain a divorce, the divorce which is granted by the Court is a divorce of their civil union and this does not necessarily mean that their religious institution will also recognize that they are divorced.

In some faiths, consent is required by one of the parties, in order for the barrier to the religious re-marriage to be removed. Where one party withholds their consent to remove the barrier to religious re-marriage, the Divorce Act kicks in.

If despite requests to the contrary, a party withholds their consent to remove this barrier, the requesting spouse may file a motion in court under section 21.1 of the Divorce Act along with an affidavit that they have requested this. The spouse who has been served with this affidavit then has 15 days to remove the barrier or the court can make an order striking out the refusing spouse’s application and claims in the family court.

Unfortunately, the court cannot take further action if a spouse has made reasonable efforts to remove religious barriers and the remaining power of removal lies with a religious body or official.

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the founder of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers and is the firm’s senior partner. At Russell Alexander, our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues, including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. We have locations in Toronto, Markham, Whitby (Brooklin), Oshawa, Concord, Lindsay, and Peterborough.

For more information, visit our website, or you can call us at: 905-655-6335.