I often receive calls regarding Annulments of marriages. Generally speaking, an annulment is a declaration by the court that two spouses were never legally married and allows a spouse to end a marriage without a divorce. Although many people would prefer to have their marriage annulled rather than to get a divorce, the grounds for an annulment are very specific and very few marriages are annulled in Ontario. Even if you do seek and obtain an annulment, you should be aware that there may still be obligations for support and division of property under the Family Law Act.
Grounds for Annulment
The Marriage Act of Ontario governs the legalities of a marriage. A marriage can be annulled for a number of reasons. An annulment usually relates to a legal defect in the marriage ceremony or a disability of one of the spouses. For example, spouses can seek an annulment if one spouse was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage ceremony, if one spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage ceremony and married without parental permission, or if one spouse lacked the mental capacity to understand the basic meaning of marriage.
A marriage can also be annulled if one spouse was unable to, or refused to, consummate the marriage, if the marriage was entered into under duress, fear, or fraud, or if the spouses were too closely related to each other by blood or marriage.
Although there is no time limitation on when spouses can obtain an annulment, annulments are usually used to end marriages that lasted for a very short period of time. If you want to find out whether a marriage can be annulled or if you need advice about a particular situation, a lawyer will be able to provide you with additional information and specific legal advice.
Walter Drescher is a partner at the law firm of Cobb & Jones LLP. Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice.