Marriage ceremonies are subject to many rules aimed at ensuring their legality. Choosing a notary to officiate the ceremony may be advisable, especially when a couple wants to know the legal consequences of such an undertaking and to find out more about the possibility of entering into a marriage contract.
Civil and religious marriages both need to meet certain requirements. The notary will make sure that they are respected.
Celebrating a civil marriage in Quebec
Age, marital status and identity
- Before a civil marriage, the officiating notary must make sure that both future spouses have reached the age of 16.
- The notary must also verify that the intended spouses are free of any previous marital or civil union ties, unless they are already in a civil union with each other. Note that a judgment of separation from bed and board does not end a marriage. A judgment of divorce must be obtained before a legally married person can remarry.
- The notary must ask the future spouses for the required proofs of identity and marital status before the marriage.
Publication of the marriage. Quebec marriage application form. A notice of marriage must be published on the website of the Directeur de l’état civil (by filling out the form Application for publication or for a dispensation from publication of a notice of marriage or civil union) 20 days before the scheduled solemnization date.
This publication must make it possible for any person to be informed of the marriage so that they can express opposition, for example in cases where, to the person’s knowledge, one of the spouses is already married, or if the person considers that the consent of one of the future spouses might not be free or informed. This type of publication replaces the traditional “reading of the banns.” An exemption from publication can be obtained for serious cause, for example when a person at the end of their life wants to get married. If the spouses are already joined together in a civil union, however, it is not necessary to publish a notice of marriage.
The witness or witnesses The notice of marriage is prepared at a meeting with the notary, and at this time, the intended spouses must be accompanied by a witness of full age chosen by the couple. This witness does not have to be one of the witnesses for the ceremony itself, but must know both future spouses. Otherwise, two witnesses are required. The role of the witness at this meeting is to attest to the accuracy of the information in the notice of marriage (names, dates and places of birth of the intended spouses).
Choice of matrimonial regime Meetings with your officiating notary also provide a good opportunity to discuss your choice of matrimonial regime by marriage contract. In Quebec, marriage and civil union contracts must be notarized to be valid.
Celebrating a civil marriage in Quebec is an official event.