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CONFLICTS BY LEGAL AREA - Divorce, including recognition of foreign divorce

Thursday, November 28, 2019 @ 6:27 AM  

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Appeal by the husband from summary judgment declaring the parties’ Russian divorce invalid. The parties and their children were Russian citizens and permanent residents of Canada. The parties were married in 2008 in the Russian Federation and separated in 2015 while living in Canada. The husband began divorce proceedings in the Russian Federation after returning there for several months in 2016. Registered letters with notice of the divorce application were sent to the wife’s registered address which was those of her parents in the Russian Federation. Her parents refused to accept the documents on her behalf. The wife did not receive any of the documents and did not receive a copy of the divorce decree within the 30-day appeal period. The motion judge declared the Russian divorce invalid, based on lack of notice to the wife. The motion judge specifically did not decide whether the husband was entitled to petition for divorce in Russia in the first place.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. While the motion judge need not have been concerned with the deficiencies in the evidence as to whether the divorce was obtained in compliance with Russian law, the motion judge appropriately focused on the lack of notice to the wife which was a denial of natural justice. The motion judge did not err in law in failing to determine the real and substantial connection issue before considering whether to refuse recognition of the Russian divorce because of fraud, natural justice or public policy concerns.

Novikova v. Lyzo, [2019] O.J. No. 5246, Ontario Court of Appeal, P.D. Lauwers, K.M. van Rensburg and L.B. Roberts JJ.A., October 16, 2019. Digest No. TLD-November252019009