The Supreme Court has said a couple can get divorced in Canada even if they have a history of “bad behavior.”
The court said the Canadian province of Quebec does not recognize same-sex marriage, and that same-filed divorce petitions filed there must be brought to Canada.
Canada’s Supreme Court heard arguments in a divorce case last month in Toronto, and will hear arguments in the same-called divorce case next month in Montreal.
The Quebec divorce laws are so strict that if a man and a woman who were together for six months were married legally and lived together for five years, they could be granted divorce in Quebec under the rules of the province.
The couple in the Toronto divorce case were awarded $1.8 million in court-ordered damages and $1 million in alimony.
They had argued that they were in a loving relationship and that they should be granted the rights of equal protection under the law.
A separate court ruling in Quebec this month allowed same-file divorce petitions from same-married couples to be filed in the province, but only for people who were married in Canada for more than six months.
A Quebec judge earlier this month upheld the lower court decision.
The court ruling came just days after a lower court judge in Ontario upheld the Quebec judge’s ruling in favour of same-located divorces.
A federal appeals court in Canada has also ruled in favour a couple in a similar case, ruling that same filed divorce petitions must be filed.
The Supreme Court said it did not mean same- filed divorce cases should be ignored in Canada.
The Canadian Marriage Act states: “Marriage shall be valid in Canada as between one man and one woman.”
But the court said it does not mean that same filing petitions for divorces should be disregarded in Canada because same filed marriages have been recognized by Quebec.
“It is for the court to determine whether the circumstances of this particular case are different from those which might exist in other situations in which a husband and wife are in a relationship of equal status,” the court wrote in the majority decision.
“Marriage does not confer on the spouses a right to an equal status.
It does not entitle them to the same rights and protections as the other members of a married family.
It is for each of them to decide how they wish to best live together in the community of Canada.”
A second case involving same-related divorce is pending in the Federal Court of Canada.
A second court case involving gay couples seeking to divorce in Canada was heard last month.
A couple in Montreal had argued the Quebec divorce law did not recognize their same-named marriage.
A Quebec court ruled in February that same file divorce petitions can be filed from same married couples.
Same-sex couples are granted the same legal rights as opposite-sex spouses under Canada’s Marriage Act, but they must abide by the same laws and obligations, such as filing financial and medical disclosures.
The same-gender divorce case in Montreal has been pending since 2008.
The ruling in the Quebec case came just a day after a judge in Canada ruled against the couple in their divorce case, saying it was based on the same grounds the Quebec court had previously dismissed as “absurd.”