Marriage Annulment 101
Last week we wrote about whether a scam immigration can be annulled under Canadian divorce law. This provides a good springboard for exploring some basic legal facts pertaining to the concept of an annulment, that many people may not be aware of.
Question: What is an annulment?
Answer: An annulment is simply a formal court order that brings an end to a marriage on one of several possible grounds or bases.
From a legal and conceptual standpoint, an order for an annulment renders the marriage void, both retrospectively and prospectively.
Question: What qualifies a marriage to be annulled in the first place?
Answer: A marriage can be annulled if it is “defective” in one of several ways. Specifically, an annulment is available if at least one of the two spouses:
- Had no legal capacity to marry (due to mental incapacity, intoxication, duress, fraud, etc.);
- Was under 18 and had no parental consent to marry;
- Was already married to another person at the time;
- Was physically unable to consummate the marriage;
- Was unaware that he or she was participating in a ceremony that results in a real marriage; or
- Was too-closely related to the other spouse by blood or adoption, as prohibited by law.
Question: Is a legal annulment the same as a religious one?
Answer: No. A legal or judicial annulment is granted by a Canadian court, and pertains to the civil marriage ceremony undergone by the couple.
A religious annulment, on the other hand, involves the rituals or ceremony prescribed by an organized religious; it impacts the religious ceremony that is recognized by the particular faith to which the couple adhere.
Question: Does an annulment eliminate the need for a divorce?
Answer: Yes. If a marriage is formally annulled by a court, then in the eyes of the law it is essentially treated as if it never happened. This means that a divorce becomes unnecessary.
At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com