Hello Dear Readers,
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of marrying a young couple in my offices and have been meaning to write a blog post ever since. I can honestly say that this was one of the best days I have had as a Notary since opening my own practice.
As mentioned in the caption, one of the many perks of being a Quebec Notary is that we are recognized by the Civil Code of Québec as wedding officiants, meaning that all Quebec Notaries in good standing with the Chambre des notaires du Québec are qualified and possess the competencies to perform a civil marriage ceremony (article 376 of the Civil Code of Québec).
The marriage celebration itself: The Notary officiating the marriage reads several articles from the Civil Code of Québec and has the future spouses make certain declarations before pronouncing them husband and wife. All this is done before at least two (2) witnesses. The Notary also fills out and has the future spouses sign all the relevant documentation required by the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec in order to allow for the wedding to be registered (and to allow for the spouses to make a request for their marriage certificate) – this documentation must also be signed by the two (2) witnesses .
Where can the ceremony take place: The ceremony may take place either in the Notary’s office, or wherever the couple wishes to celebrate their marriage (it being understood, however, that fees would be higher in the latter circumstance).
When can the ceremony take place: While I am sure a lot of people would love to get married immediately, there are certain delays which cannot be overlooked. In particular, a notice of marriage must be posted for twenty (20) days before the date of the marriage at the place where the ceremony is to be held and at the nearest courthouse. If the marriage does not take place within the three (3) months following the publication of this notice, the Notary must then post a new notice. This is an essential step in the marriage ceremony process that cannot be overlooked, unless you receive special permission (i.e. in the event a person is in palliative care, but wishes to get married to his/her common law spouse of many years before passing away). In the event this procedure is not followed, the marriage may be declared null and void.
Who can get married by a Quebec Notary?: The following are the conditions that are required for people to be married by a Quebec Notary (and which the Notary must verify):
- two persons that are at least sixteen (16) years of age (they must be eighteen (18) years of age in the case of a civil union). If the future spouses are not sixteen (16) years old (or 18 years old in the case of a civil union), they must have parental written consent;
- both persons must not be married. If one of the future spouses has been divorced, he/she will have to bring a copy of the judgment for the Notary’s verification. This is a very important distinction to make because, even in the event of legal separation (done before the courts), a couple is still considered to be married before the law. Therefore, even legally separated spouses may not enter into marriage (or civil union) with another person – they must be divorced (or have their marriage annulled, but this latter case is more rare). Furthermore, if any of the future spouses are widowed, he/she would have to bring a Copy of an Act of Death to the Notary’s office (so that the notary can verify that the future spouse is, in fact, widowed).
- the future spouses must not be related to each other to a degree that would prohibit marriage by law (i.e. you cannot marry your sibling)
In this particular instance, the couple getting married came to my offices for the celebration of their marriage – along with at least ten (10) of their closest family members and friends (truthfully, I usually don’t expect this many people at my offices and I would need to know before hand if this many people would be attending). The couple and their entire family was dressed for the occasion, and I felt like I was taking part in one of this family’s most important celebrations – which is why I consider this one of my best days of my practice!
For more information on this subject, please refer to the following website: http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/publications/generale/celebrant-a.htm
As usual, feel free to post any comments or questions you might have.
Have a great week everyone!
Anna Kamateros, notaire, Notary
B.S.W., LL.B., D.D.N.
Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish a notary-client relationship. If you require any legal advice, please feel free to contact the Mtre. Anna Kamateros, Notary, directly.