I’m not a Canadian citizen. Will I be forced to leave Canada if my partner and I separate or divorce?

1. Talk to a lawyer

A lawyer can give legal advice. Legal advice means that a lawyer can explain what the law says and how it applies to your specific legal problem.

Sometimes you may need to speak with more than one lawyer. For example, you may need to talk to an immigration lawyer and a family lawyer. Or, you might be able to find one lawyer who has experience in both immigration law and family law.

Immigration law issues

An immigration lawyer can tell you whether separation or affects your immigration status in Canada. They can also do things like help you:

  • understand your options so you can decide what to do
  • deal with immigration authorities
  • understand how your immigration status may affect your other rights, for example, in family law

Family law issues

When you and your partner separate or divorce, you have to decide things like how to divide property, who takes care of the children, and who pays child support and spousal support.

A family law lawyer can help you understand what the law says you have to do and what you can get when you separate or divorce.

Connection between immigration and family law

There are many situations where your immigration and family law issues may overlap and affect each other. For example, you have no status and:

  • you want to start a family law case
  • you want to move to a different city or province with your children after you separate from or divorce your partner
  • you want to make a humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) application and you have children

Family violence

If you‘ve experienced and need immediate legal help, you may be able to get 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer. If you need advice from an immigration lawyer and a family lawyer, you can ask to get advice from both. You can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.

If you've experienced sexual abuse and live in Toronto, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay, you might be able to get 4 hours of free advice from a lawyer. You have to complete a voucher request form. Or you can call the Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program at 1-855-226-3904 to find out more.

If you're leaving an abusive relationship, there are places that offer emotional, safety planning, and housing help.

Legal help

Legal Aid Ontario's Refugee Law Offices offer free help with refugee claims, humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) applications, and some other immigration problems. You can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.

Your local community legal clinic may also be able to help you with your legal problems. The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic provides free legal representation in family and immigration law, as well as counselling and language interpreter services for women who experience physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.

If you have a low income, you may be able to get a Legal Aid Ontario certificate for some family and immigration law issues.

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