By now, you’ve probably heard the advice: Get the bride and groom together, prepare for the wedding, and have them sign a contract to stay in the country together.
And you’re probably also wondering: Will we actually be able to live together in Canada?
That’s the big question that’s been bouncing around the web this week as the Supreme Court of Canada rules on whether it’s constitutional for couples to live apart.
The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the issue by the end of this year, and some experts predict it will lead to more and more divorces.
But as the couple’s legal options are being considered, there are other questions that could make this a less ideal scenario.
In a country with a history of divorce, does a separation mean we won’t be able live together?
No, but it could make it harder for you and your loved one to stay together.
The legal separation doesn’t automatically end a marriage.
If you and the other spouse want to keep living together, you can continue to get married and have children, or you can leave the marriage and get married again.
However, if you decide to separate, you must do so within one year of the divorce.
The separation may or may not last for that long.
So it’s important to keep your legal options open and to think carefully about how long it will take you to get back together, says Joanna O’Brien, a senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, an advocacy group that advocates for more openness in the divorce process.
“It’s important for us to be very, very cautious,” she says.
What are the rules for getting married in Canada, if there are any?
The laws of Canada are complex, and the laws governing marriages vary by province.
“If you have two Canadians who have lived together for several years, they are probably going to have a more positive relationship with each other,” says O’Connor.
That’s because, while the law is based on the Canadian definition of marriage, there is no single law that applies to the two spouses.
“Canada is a very pluralistic country, so the laws that apply to Canadians, that apply only to Canadians of a particular ethnic group, or even that apply across the country, apply to them all,” says Brian McBride, the CEO of Marriage Equality Canada, which advocates for marriage equality.
“There’s a lot of confusion about what that means, and how it applies in Canada.”
In addition, there’s the problem of what happens when the couples have to get divorced, or when the legal separation ends.
The rules around separation are pretty different in each province, and each province’s laws vary widely, McBride says.
“And the reason is that the federal government and the provinces have different expectations,” he says.
While the rules are different in Ontario, for example, the courts will usually follow the province’s rules, while some provinces, such as Alberta, will give more leeway to the couples in terms of what to do if they’re separated.
In some cases, the couples may even have to go to court and ask the court to intervene if the court thinks there’s an issue with the separation.
What about health care?
The health of your marriage depends on a lot more than just the number of months you live together.
For instance, some couples may have health problems, such a heart or lung condition, which can make it hard to stay married.
And health insurance could make things even more complicated, since couples might be required to sign up for medical services or pay out of pocket for things like treatment, says Otero, the legal advisor with Marriage Equality.
“The health of a couple is very important to them, and they want to be able be together,” she adds.
The other issue is money.
Depending on your financial situation, you may not have the money to pay for the whole wedding, so you may have to split the cost.
“They are looking for ways to split their cost of living,” Oteros says.
The couple may have a joint account, or they may have separate accounts, says McBride.
For the health of their relationship, a couple should always have a clear plan in place.
“For example, if the couple has an emergency fund, it needs to be set up,” McBride adds.
In most cases, this will involve setting aside money for your family’s needs and also making sure you don’t run out of money.
“You want to make sure that there’s money for all your family members,” McBrien says.
There’s also the issue of travel.
If one or both of you have a medical condition, travel to Canada could be expensive.
“Travel is a big expense for a couple,” McConaghey says.
You can’t just keep the cost to yourself, though, since the courts have ruled that a marriage isn’t legal unless one spouse has medical insurance.
That means that