Marriage and Common-Law Relationships
Individuals in married or common-law relationships, whether same or opposite sex, have certain rights and obligations. Legal marriage gives status to individuals as spouses, resulting in certain rights and obligations. The law places some restrictions on who can enter into a valid marriage. There are also rules about how a valid marriage takes place.
Who cannot legally marry?
Persons under the age of 16: Under Canada’s Civil Marriage Act, a person under 16 is prohibited from marrying. Persons between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age cannot marry unless a judge gives written consent, or in other circumstances set out in The Marriage Act.
Closely related persons: A person may not marry their grandparent, parent, child, grandchild or brother or sister.
Persons who have committees appointed for them under The Mental Health Act cannot marry, unless a psychiatrist certifies in writing that they are able to understand the nature of marriage and its duties and responsibilities.
Anyone who is 16 years of age or older, who has been divorced or whose spouse has died, may remarry without the consent of any other person. However, satisfactory proof of the divorce or death must be shown before a marriage licence can be obtained.
How does a valid marriage take place?
The couple must first get a marriage licence, unless they both regularly attend a place of worship and banns declaring their intention to marry have been proclaimed during a religious service. Marriage licences may be obtained from authorized businesses throughout the province. In Winnipeg, licences can also be obtained at Vital Statistics at 254 Portage Avenue. For listings of Winnipeg and rural marriage licence issuers, go to: https://vitalstats.gov.mb.ca/getting_married.html.
The couple must apply together for the marriage licence. It must be obtained at least 24 hours before their wedding, unless the person performing the ceremony is persuaded that the time period should be waived because of exceptional circumstances. The wedding must take place within three months after the licence is issued.
There must be a ceremony, either religious or civil. A civil ceremony is a non-religious rite and must be performed by a marriage commissioner. Vital Statistics has a list of marriage commissioners who are authorized by law to perform civil marriages in Manitoba. A marriage ceremony, whether religious or civil, may take place anywhere in Manitoba (e.g., in a church, private home, park or hotel). At least two witnesses must be present.
For further details about the requirements that must be met before entering into a marriage and the relationships that prevent a legal marriage, contact:
Vital Statistics Agency
254 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg MB R3C 0B6
Service en français: 204-945-5500
Toll free: 1-866-949-9296
Online: Vital Statistics website