The literal meaning of talaq is that of disavowing oneself from the matrimonial bond. The method by which talaq is given is by saying the term three (3) times to one’s spouse, verbally or by writing such a statement in correspondence three times.
However, does the mere statement to one’s spouse of talaq three times end a marriage in Ontario? In the action you are stating specifically to your spouse that you end the marriage, this meets one of the tenants of family law, breaking the matrimonial vessel by informing the opposing spouse the matrimonial bond is broken or dissolved. However, much more is needed than mere words. Merely stating the words and not acting accordingly on the action described will render the statement null and void. For example, if the spouses continue to sleep together, cook and clean for one another, continue to represent themselves in the community at large as husband and wife, the mere fact that in the privacy of their matrimonial home one of the parties had in the past declared the marriage at an end by repeating this word three times does not under Ontario law create a valid separation date.
I have encountered many such cases in which the parties have stated that yes indeed we continued to live together and act as a married couple however, Islamically I had ended the marriage years ago by informing him/her I was separating by stating Talaq three times, as such he/she and I should not be considered Husband and Wife. My response to such queries is that you have not established an end to the marriage as a result of your cohabiting with the other party for over 90 days since the talaq proclamation, and secondly, you have represented yourselves as being husband and wife not only in the eyes of the community around you but also in your own private lives via your actions. I would also state that in this circumstance not only is the separation date not recognized under the jurisdiction of Ontario, but it would also fail the Islamic interpretation of the talaq concept as the parties continued their matrimonial relations, and did not act in accordance with a couple that had separated after the statements were made.
Thus, one must remember that the validity of a separation date is weighed not only on the statements but the actions of the parties’ as well.
ASIM MEHDI KHAN B.A., LL.B.
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