What happens if people get married and have a religious ceremony but they do not obtain a Marriage License? What if they didn’t realize they needed one? What if they had a destination wedding and no one told them they needed a marriage license?

Under section 15 of the Marriage Act, RSBC 1996, Chapter 282 a marriage is only legal if you have a properly issued marriage license. If you did not obtain a marriage license and you later separate you do not need to obtain a divorce.

If you are living together in a marriage-like relationship without a marriage certificate you are treated as common-law spouses and all of the law in British Columbia regarding spousal maintenance, child maintenance and property division applies.

If you have lived together as common-law spouses and do not have a child for less than 2 years you will not be required to share your property or pay spousal maintenance. If however you have a child, there can be a spousal maintenance and a child maintenance obligation.

Deborah Todd Family Law Victoria
Deborah A. Todd