Canadian Family Law

How Does Canadian Family Law Handle the Breakdown of a Sponsorship Relationship?

When a spouse or partner is sponsored to come to Canada, there can be legal problems if the relationship breaks down. This is especially true when it comes to family law and immigration law. The issues that can arise in this situation may include concerns about maintaining immigration status, sponsorship undertakings, and spousal financial support. Here, we will highlight what happens when a sponsored spouse or partner breaks up in Canada and what their legal rights and obligations are.

Categories of Sponsorship in Canada

In Canada, three categories define the relationship between a sponsor and a sponsored person. The first is a spouse, which means that the sponsor and the sponsored person are married. In the second scenario, a common-law partner requires the sponsor and sponsored person to have lived together continuously for at least one year. The third is a conjugal partner, which applies to situations where exceptional circumstances have prevented the partners from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses. Partners must have lived for at least a year in a mutually dependent relationship, with a commitment to a marriage or common-law partnership.

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Divorce and Separation

These two are one of the major issues that may arise when a sponsored relationship breaks. A legally married couple can apply for divorce however, separation is applicable to both married and unmarried couples. In Canada, the Divorce Act is applied to the couple who have divorced or are in the process. It sets out rules about the grounds for divorce, child support, spousal support, custody, and parenting arrangements for children after a divorce.

Permanent Resident Status

If a sponsored person’s relationship breaks down, and they were granted permanent residence after being sponsored, their residency status is not contingent on living with their spouse or the length of their relationship. If a sponsored spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident is no longer living with their sponsor, they can still maintain their permanent resident status.

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However, if a sponsored person does not have permanent resident status and their relationship breaks down or they get divorced, it may affect their ability to remain in Canada. If the sponsorship application is still in progress, and the sponsored person files for divorce or the relationship breaks down, they must inform Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Sponsorship Undertakings

Sponsors who sign an undertaking must provide financial support for the basic needs of their spouse or partner (and their dependent children, if applicable). The undertaking is a binding promise of support that lasts for the length of the undertaking period, even if the sponsor and the sponsored person separate or divorce during this time. It is important to note that a sponsor’s obligations under a sponsorship agreement and undertaking are separate from the sponsor’s obligation to pay spousal support based on family law legislation.

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