Same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005, making Canada the fourth country in the world to legalize it. It was already legal in various provinces and territories at the time, but the lack of federal unity caused problems for many couples who got married in one part of Canada, but were not considered married in other parts or who were not covered under some Canada-wide legislation. It also caused problems with regard to divorce and separation of couples depending on where in Canada they lived.
Now, if you are part of a same-sex couple, your marriage or relationship is treated the same as any other under the law in Canada. This means that if you are married and your relationship ends, issues of property, children and spousal support are covered under the Divorce Act. If you are not married but are in a common-law relationship, issues relating to support are covered under the Family Law Act.
Some particular issues of interest to same-sex partners are:
- Adoption of the biological children of one spouse by the other spouse.
- Custody of children of a same-sex marriage after a divorce. Although the law treats both parents as equally entitled to custody, there can be issues of bias in favor of the biological parent.
- Issues regarding the validity of marriages outside of Canada, whether you were married in another jurisdiction that doesn’t have gay marriage or are thinking of moving to one.
- Spousal support of same-sex partners. Although the law considers same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex couples, sometimes it can be difficult to convince a court that one partner sacrificed career opportunities for the sake of the marriage and the children. The court may assume that same-sex marriages tend to be more egalitarian.
Our Toronto same-sex marriage and divorce lawyers can help you with more information on your rights and responsibilities, as well as any other issues of particular concern to gay and lesbian partners. Contact Baker & Baker at 416-964-2215 or email us for a free consultation.