Divorce In Canada: When You Will Need A Language Translator

Posted on: 23 April 2015


Canada recognizes two official languages-- English and French. If you marry a French Canadian who only speaks French and does not understand English, it may be a problem when you get a divorce. Here is how you can cross that language barrier and make it clear to your former spouse the terms of the divorce.

Most Lawyers in Canada Can Speak French

The closer you live to Quebec, the more likely you can find a divorce lawyer that speaks French, although a few other French-speaking lawyers are scattered throughout the provinces. Even if you can speak and understand French, your spouse will still need someone who can speak his or her language in court. Generally, divorcing spouses are not allowed to speak to each other in court if they both have lawyers representing them, so you cannot act as a translator for your ex in court. 

When Your Divorce Hearing Will Need a Translator

Depending on where you live, you might not be able to find a judge and two divorce lawyers who speak and understand French. It does happen and it is not unrealistic. Should this happen to you and your spouse in divorce court, a translator can come in and translate everything for your ex. Expect your divorce hearing to go longer than an hour, since everyone who speaks English will have to pause and allow the translator to speak to your French-only spouse and clarify anything he or she does not understand.

Mediation Services with a Translator

To shorten up the time needed in court to translate everything for your spouse, you can try mediation services instead. You and your spouse agree to meet with a divorce mediation specialist who discusses the terms of your divorce and irons out the bumpy areas. The translator is not distracting in this setting because he or she can sit close to your spouse and translate everything as it is spoken, rather than waiting for others to stop speaking and then translate. Divorce details that you and your spouse agree upon are then typed up in French and English and signed by both of you.

In-Ear Translation: The Alternative to Hiring a Translator

When you cannot find a French-speaking lawyer or a translator for your mediation or divorce hearing, you may be able to utilize in-ear translation. As other people speak, the technology immediately translates for your former spouse what it being said and pipes it directly into his or her ear through ear buds. It is the least distracting method of all, but it is only offered if there is no other way to communicate with someone who only speaks French.

For more information about your options in this type of situation, contact a professional legal office like Wise Scheible Barkauskas.