Legal Resources

Legal Resources

Legal Advice and Assistance

Legal Aid Ontario
Provides legal aid to low-income people across Ontario.Also provides referrals in over 120 languages.
For a clear guide on how to apply for legal aid, visit CLEO’s website:

South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)
(416) 487-6371 

Family Law Education for Women
 (416) 961-8101


Barbara Schlifer Clinic

489 College, Toronto ON

(416) 323-9149

Justice for Youth and Children
415 Yonge Street, Suite 1203, Toronto
(416) 920-1633

Ontario Women’s Justice Network
This online legal resource provides information on issues related to justice and violence against women and children. 


Legal Definitions

Kidnapping and Forcible Confinement are both defined in s. 279 of the
Criminal Code of Canada:


279. (1) Every person commits an offence who kidnaps a person with intent
(a) to cause the person to be confined or imprisoned against the person’s will;
(b) to cause the person to be unlawfully sent or transported out of Canada against the person’s will; or
(c) to hold the person for ransom or to service against the person’s will.

Forcible confinement

(2) Every one who, without lawful authority, confines, imprisons or forcibly seizes another person…

is outlined in Section 8 of the Divorce Act:
8. (1) A court of competent jurisdiction may, on application by either or both spouses, grant a divorce to the spouse or spouses on the ground that there has been a breakdown of their marriage.

(2) Breakdown of a marriage is established only if
(a) the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding;
(b) the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since celebration of the marriage,
(i) committed adultery, or
(ii) treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.

A definition of annulment from the Canadian Bar Association:

What is annulment?

A divorce is the court order which ends a valid marriage. An annulment is the court declaration that a marriage is invalid. For example, a marriage might be invalid if one spouse was already married when he or she married the other, if one of the spouses was under the age of 16 at the time of the marriage, or if a spouse married someone other than the person he or she intended to marry.* If the court finds that the marriage is invalid it will make a declaration that the marriage is void as if it had never happened, and no divorce is necessary.

It is important to know that even where a marriage is annulled, the parties will be treated as “spouses” and “parents” under the provincial Family Relations Act, which means that the parties can make claims against each other about the care and control of children, the payment of support and the division of assets. As well, the law about the annulment of foreign marriages is complicated. You should speak to a lawyer if you are thinking about trying to annul a foreign marriage.

Some religions grant religious annulments. These annulments are valid within that religion but do not legally void a marriage. In the eyes of the law, you and your spouse will remain married until a judge makes a legal declaration of annulment.


*or if emotional duress, violence or threat of violence was used to convince one or both of the parties to marry the other. – FMP’s note.


Forced Marriage and Canadian Law

Although there is not an explicit law against forced marriage in Canada:

  • According to Canadian family law, if someone is forced into marriage, the marriage can be declared void.  It is not automatically void but requires the victim to step forward to have it declared void.
  • The intention to contract marriage is important – the motive is not.
  • Many of the activities associated with forced marriage are crimes, such as:
    • Underage or child marriage
    • Child abuse
    • Physical or emotional assault
    • Sexual assault
    • Kidnapping
    • Forced confinement
    • Fraud
    • Death threats
    • Harassment (stalking)

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