Spousal Support & Alimony

Marriage Annulment 101

married couple

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 adheres.

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