Married Thrice; Divorce Only Once – Court Untangles Man’s Complex Love-Life
In a recent case called Lowe v. A.A. the court was asked to legally untangle the love-life of a man named Errol Lowe who had been married three times … but divorced only once. This left the much-married Errol was in an interesting legal predicament, because it invited the question of whether his second and third marriages were valid, whether they were now eligible to be the subject of a divorce order, or whether they were void from the outset.
The court set the stage against which these issues were to be determined:
Errol D. Lowe has entered into three marriages in the province of Ontario. Two of these marriages were entered into while he had prior existing marriages. He has only been divorced once. He has appealed to the court for help in “undoing” his second and third marriages.
Mr. Lowe’s circumstances are unusual. His complex marital history requires the court to examine the evidence and first determine the appropriate legal nature of each of his three relationships in order to identify the appropriate mechanisms for ending them.
In order to legally end Mr. Lowe’s second and third marriages, the court must decide whether these marriages were valid in the first place. This determination will affect whether the marriages are to be ended by way of annulment or divorce. If either of Mr. Lowe’s marriages were invalid from the start because he lacked the capacity to marry, that marriage is void from the beginning and a decree of annulment may be issued. If either marriage was valid, then the proper mechanism is divorce.
With that said, the court noted that in a practical sense some of these issues were actually moot and no longer affected Errol and his many wives directly; it seems that Errol was unable to make a go of his subsequent marriages anyway. The court said:
I should note that whether Mr. Lowe’s second and third marriages are to end in divorce or annulment has little practical implication, either for him or for his second and third wives. I say this because he has been separated from his second wife for many years and has had no contact with her since before his third marriage. He married his third wife in 2008 and has been separated from her since the spring of 2016.
Moreover, in an interesting aside it seems that none of Errol’s wives were particularly proud of having married him at all. In the court’s words:
I should note that Mr. Lowe testified at the initial return of this matter on February 21, 2018. Mr. Lowe’s third wife, the Respondent A.A., also testified with respect to application FS-17-291. She asked to be referred to by her initials in my written reasons. I have referred to Ms. A.A. and to Mr. Lowe’s first and second wives by their initials out of respect for their privacy.
The court did add that while none of Errol’s former wives were currently seek support from him, a support claim could still be a possibility in the future, regardless of whether the marriages ended in divorce or annulment.
There’s the old saying: “always a bridesmaid, never a bride”. In Errol’s case, perhaps it was “never a groomsman, always a groom.” His intriguing case gives rise to multiple legal issues, and we will cover more of them in some upcoming Blog posts.
For the full text of the decision, see: