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A notary can be a marriage officiant for anyone (but just in Quebec)

A notary to celebrate your marriage: A wise choice


When we finally meet our other half, the desire to spend the rest of our days together and to formalize the union grows stronger with each passing day. Whether it’s to benefit from certain legal protections in the event of a possible separation or simply to legitimize the union, you will have to take certain decisions about how you decide to proceed. One of the options available to you is to hire a notary to solemnize your marriage.


The advantages of hiring a notary as officiant


Of course, choosing a notary to solemnize your marriage allows you to take advantage of the personalized legal advice of a professional to ensure conformity with all the legal aspects surrounding the marriage. Moreover, a notary officiant is not legally required to solemnize the marriage at the courthouse, and can do so wherever the prospective spouses so wish, whether in a reception room, in a restaurant, or any other place where the ceremony is planned to take place. In addition, unlike a courthouse clerk who must comply with the celebration hours allowed by the courthouse, a notary officiant enjoys greater flexibility and can solemnize the marriage any day of the week between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. What is more, waiting times are much shorter than those for the courthouse. Finally, a notary can solemnize any type of marriage, regardless of the religion of the spouses, provided that the union takes place in the province of Quebec.


How does it work?


First, the prospective spouses must have a telephone interview with the notary who will celebrate their union in order to gather the information necessary for the marriage notice. This meeting must take place at least 20 days prior to the scheduled wedding date. During this interview, many points will be discussed, including the wishes of the nearlyweds regarding the ceremony, but especially all the legal aspects surrounding marriage in Quebec, such as the rights and obligations of each spouse. Your notary will provide detailed explanations of all the principles of family patrimony and all the available options pertaining to the choice of a matrimonial regime. During the first exchange with the notary, the nearlyweds will each have to present two pieces of photo ID and their birth certificate. In addition, proof of marital status must be provided showing that both partners are free of any marriage or civil union relationship. Thus, a divorce certificate or death certificate may be required if applicable. Later, a second discussion with your notary will be for the solemnization of your marriage.


Conduct of the ceremony


The notary solemnizing the marriage must begin by explaining the purpose of the ceremony to the nearlyweds and their respective witnesses and guests. Then, the officiant must read to the prospective spouses the sections of the Civil Code of Québec that explain the inherent rights and obligations of marriage, followed by the exchange of consent from the two spouses so the officiant can finally declare them united by the bonds of matrimony. Subsequently, both spouses sign the Declaration of Marriage form submitted to the Directeur de l’état civil where the marriage certificate will be produced. The new spouses are then officially married. The ceremony can take various forms at the request of the nearlyweds since the laws concerning a civil marriage are simple. As such, they may choose to read their personal vows, allow some of their relatives to speak, or simply to exchange their rings. All requests and details must be discussed beforehand with the officiant to ensure compliance with all legal requirements, in addition to personal requests. Finally, the notary has fulfilled their role as a public officer and newlyweds can now celebrate their union with their loved ones.


Difference between civil marriage and civil union


Although civil union was initially introduced to allow same-sex couples to marry, it has somewhat lost its purpose since civil marriage for same-sex couples was legalized in Canada in 2005. There are many similarities between civil marriage and civil union, both in legal terms and in the procedure and conditions for celebrating the union. Nevertheless, there are still two significant differences between the two. Firstly, when childless spouses wish to dissolve a civil union, filing a declaration of dissolution of their civil union before a notary is sufficient to officialize the end of the matrimonial regime. In the case of civil marriage, the spouses must go to court to obtain a divorce decree and the process is usually longer, more complex, and more expensive. However, spouses in a civil union who have had children together are also required to go through this same process. Secondly, it should be noted that a civil union is valid only in Quebec. As such, a civil union might not be legally recognized in another province or in another country.

In conclusion, whether you opt for a civil marriage or a civil union, what matter is that you respect your desires, your wills, and to proceed with the union having full knowledge of the facts. No one is in a better position than a notary to help you in your endeavour, and if you wish so, to celebrate your union with your loved one. The professionals at Trépanier & Raffoul Notaires are happy to be part of this important moment of your life and to be able to celebrate your love.


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