If you have watched Friends, you probably remember the episode where Ross and Rachel went to get their marriage annulled before a judge. Rachel complained about how the marriage was not consummated and Ross is not mentally stable. After Ross told the judge that everything Rach complained about was false, the judge asked them to file for divorce, instead of an annulment. As a family lawyer, the thought that went through my mind when watching this episode was, “wow, the author knows the law”.
In Canada, the law governing marriage annulment resembles its counterpart in the US. In Ontario, you may be able to obtain an annulment if you did not have the capacity to marry such as being married already to someone else, being so intoxicated you did not know what you were doing, being a minor, being forced into marriage by reason of fraud or duress, lacking the mental capacity. Another common reason for annulment is that the marriage is not able to be consummated due to one spouse’s physical reasons and the other spouse did not know this before marriage. In the past, the court has also granted annulment because one partner does not know what it meant to get married.
Other reasons why people pursue annulment maybe that they have a short marriage, have a change of heart right after marriage, or don’t wish to be associated with the stigma of divorce. However, the court will not grant an annulment simply based on these reasons.
I’ve also encountered situations where the parties were under the impression that they were married and requested assistance to apply for annulment, but it turned out that the marriage was never registered. If you’ve never applied for a marriage certificate, make sure to run a marriage search to confirm if you have been “legally married” before you start your annulment application.
People are often under the impression that it will be easier to file for annulment than divorce, which is not true. This is because the court has a special process to get a divorce if you and your partner agree to it. You can fill out paperwork and don’t usually have to go to court and talk to a judge if you only want a divorce and both partners agree. But there is no similar court process to get an annulment based on just paperwork.
The effect of an annulment is as if you and your partner never got married. However, if you are the party who entered into the marriage in good faith, you may be able to claim for division of property asset, possession of matrimonial home, child support and spousal support when filing for annulment.
If you need a Family Lawyer contact MEHDI AU LLP today, we have experienced divorce lawyers who can help you in your case.
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