Recently Engaged? Three Legal Considerations Before Walking Down the Aisle

Applying for your Marriage Licence:

In order for your marriage to be valid, you need to obtain a marriage licence in advance of your ceremony. Nova Scotia has recently updated the laws regarding the issuance of marriage licences. Both you and your fiancé(e) will have to visit an Access Nova Scotia Office to apply for your marriage licence, as you will both need to complete an affidavit form which must be witnessed.

You will both be required to provide your full names, ages, addresses, marital statuses and occupations. You will also both need to bring a signed piece of government-issued identification, proof of your age, and a certified copy of either your:

  • valid photo driver’s licence;
  • birth certificate;
  • baptism certificate;
  • passport; or
  • Canadian citizenship card.

Also, if either of you is divorced or widowed, you will need to bring proof of divorce or proof of death.

The application fee is $132.70.

Marriage licences now expire three months after they are issued. You will want to ensure you apply for your marriage licence within three months of your wedding ceremony to avoid having to complete the process twice.

Contracting with Vendors:

When contracting with wedding vendors, it is important to carefully review these contracts and to ensure they clearly set out all of the products or services you expect to receive.

Recently, a pair of Nova Scotia newlyweds sued the rental company they hired to provide tents, tables, chairs, linens, dishes, cutlery, a dance floor, and other items for their wedding. The rental company delivered the items two days late and there was a lot of confusion as to what services were to be provided by the rental company. As a result, the wedding preparations were significantly delayed, the rehearsal dinner was virtually cancelled, and many of the bride and groom’s close friends and family members had to stay up late into the early morning hours of the wedding day to set up.

Although the Court awarded the newlyweds $5,419.39, this was less than they had sought and their enjoyment of their wedding was severely impacted.

The Small Claims Court Adjudicator provided the following advice to future couples hoping to avoid a similar situation, “a clearly itemized list of who is responsible for what would go a long way to ensuring what happened here does not happen again.”

Wills, Power of Attorneys and Beneficiary Nominations:

This is a good time for you and your spouse to think about your wills, power of attorneys and beneficiary nominations. Now that you are getting married, you may wish to change your previously expressed intentions, or you may feel it is important to express your intentions for the first time.

You should also be aware that in Nova Scotia, if you have already made a will, it will be revoked by your marriage, unless the will specifically says it was prepared in contemplation of your upcoming marriage. This rule only applies to wills, therefore, if you already have a power of attorney, it will not be revoked by your upcoming marriage.

You may also have previously completed forms nominating a beneficiary or beneficiaries of your pensions or insurance policies. On your death, these assets will not form part of your estate. As such, even if you execute a new will leaving everything to your new spouse, these assets will go to the previously nominated beneficiary. If you wish to change a beneficiary nomination, you should inquire directly with your pension or insurance plan providers to learn how to do so.

Sampson McPhee has prepared this publication to provide legal information of a general nature. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you. You can reach us by calling 902 539 2425.