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International Matters

Family law issues can be complicated, and when they involve parties from different countries, they become even more complex. The Canadian legal system has a process for dealing with international matters of court, including divorce, child custody, and child support. In this article, we will explore the process of international matters of court in Canada, including the role of Canadian courts, the recognition of foreign judgments, and the Hague Convention.

Role of Canadian Courts

Canadian courts have the authority to make decisions in cases involving international family law matter, provided that at least one party has a connection to Canada. The courts can make decisions on issues such as divorce, child custody and support, as well as property division and spousal support. In many cases, the courts will consider the laws of the foreign country in which the parties reside or have a connection to.

Recognition of Foreign Judgments

Canadian superior court of justice courts may recognize foreign judgments related to family law matters if they meet certain criteria. For example, if a foreign court had jurisdiction over the parties and the matter, and if the foreign court’s decision is not contrary to Canadian public policy, the Canadian courts may recognize the foreign judgment.

However, if the foreign court’s decision was made in violation of natural justice, or if it is not in compliance with Canadian law, the Canadian courts may refuse to recognize the foreign judgment. Similarly, if the foreign judgment would result in an unfair or unjust result in Canada, the Canadian courts may also refuse to recognize it.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is an international treaty that addresses the jurisdictional issues that arise in international family law matter, including child custody and child support. Canada is a signatory to the Hague Convention, which means that Canadian courts are bound by its provisions.

In the realm of family law, the Convention stipulates that in cases where a child is taken from their country of habitual residence to another country, the latter must arrange for the child’s repatriation to their country of habitual residence. The term “country of habitual residence” refers to the country where the child has resided for a considerable period prior to the move. 

Furthermore, the Hague Convention permits to enforce children support orders across international borders, provided that both the countries involved are signatories to the Convention. 

Process for International Matters of Court in Canada

The process for international matters of court in Canada can be complex and time-consuming. If you are involved in an international family law matter, it is important to seek the advice of family lawyer who specializes in family law.

Filing a Petition

Divorce lawyers handling international cases in Canada must commence the legal process by submitting a petition. As part of this process, the petitioner is required to furnish the court with all pertinent information, such as the identities and contact details of all involved parties, and the precise type of relief requested. 

In situations where parties cannot afford a divorce lawyer, legal aid may be available to provide assistance. In addition, in matters involving children support and enforcement, the Family Responsibility Office may become involved to ensure that support payments are made on time and to the correct recipient.

Service of Process

The petitioner must ensure that a copy of the petition and other necessary documents are appropriately served to the concerned parties. However, international cases can pose unique challenges since the parties involved may be situated in different countries. In such scenarios, seeking legal aid becomes imperative to ensure that the documents are served correctly and within the stipulated time frame. 

Without legal aid, the petitioner may struggle to serve the documents effectively, which could result in delays or even dismissal of the case. Hence, availing legal aid services can greatly assist the petitioner in navigating the complexities of international cases and ensuring that all necessary requirements are met.

Response and Discovery

Once served with the petition, the other parties involved have the opportunity to respond, and they may also be required to provide relevant information through the process of discovery. However, navigating the complex legal procedures of family court and complying with the requirements of the family responsibility office can be challenging without legal aid. 

Legal aid can provide invaluable assistance to parties in family court cases by guiding them through the legal process, ensuring that they respond correctly to the petition, and provide relevant information through the process of discovery. Additionally, legal aid can also help parties understand the legal implications of their responses and take appropriate actions to protect their rights and interests.

Mediation and Negotiation

In many cases, the parties will attempt to resolve the matter through mediation or negotiation. This can be particularly important in international cases, as it may be difficult or costly to litigate the matter in a foreign country.


If mediation or negotiation does not lead to a resolution, the case may proceed to trial, where the parties will present their evidence to the court. However, navigating the complexities of the Ontario Court of Justice and presenting evidence in a compelling manner can be challenging without legal aid. 

Furthermore, legal aid can help parties understand the legal implications of the court’s decision and take appropriate actions to address any concerns or issues that may arise as a result of the court’s ruling. Therefore, seeking legal aid can greatly benefit parties involved in family court cases and ensure a fair and just resolution.

International Custody Disputes

International custody disputes are some of the most challenging issues in family law. When a parent takes their child from Canada without the other parent’s permission or without a court order, the situation can be extremely difficult for the left-behind parent. It can also be difficult when one parent wants to move to another country with the child, and the other parent does not agree.

If one parent removes the child from Canada without the other parent’s consent, the left-behind parent can apply for the child’s return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, it is essential to act quickly in these cases, as time can be a critical factor.

In cases where one parent wishes to relocate to another country with their child, they must obtain either the other parent’s consent or a court order allowing the move. If the other parent does not consent to the move, the parent wishing to relocate may have to seek legal aid and apply to the court for permission. The court will take into account various factors when deciding whether to grant permission for the child to relocate, including the child’s age, relationship with each parent, the reasons for the move, and the potential impact on the child’s life.

Additionally, family law information centres can provide valuable guidance and resources to parents seeking to navigate the complexities of cases involving child relocation. 

Child Abduction and Criminal Charges

International child abduction is a serious offense, and the parent who takes the child without the other parent’s permission or a court order can face criminal charges in both Canada and the country where they took the child. In Canada, child abduction is a criminal offense under the Criminal Code of Canada, and the penalties can be severe.

If a parent takes a child from Canada without the other parent’s permission or a court order, the left-behind parent can contact the Canadian police and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA has the power to stop a parent from leaving Canada with a child if they have reason to believe that the child is being taken without the other parent’s consent or a court order.

If a child has been taken to another country without the left-behind parent’s consent, the Canadian Immigration embassy or consulate in that country can provide assistance to locate and return the child to Canada. The Canadian government offers various programs to help parents dealing with such situations, providing crucial information and support in working with local authorities.