We, as lawyers, are often asked if, instead of obtaining a divorce judgment, we can obtain an annulment.
An annulment is a declaration by the court that two spouses were never legally married and allows spouses to end a marriage without a divorce judgment.
We must be transparent with our clients and advise them that, unfortunately, although an annulment is preferable, the grounds for annulment are very specific and very few marriages are ever annulled by the courts.
Also, it is important to note that even if you do obtain an annulment, there will still be obligations for child support, if the parties had children together, as well as a division of property, should the parties be co-owners.
What are the grounds? A marriage under the federal Divorce Act can be annulled for a number of reasons, which are usually related to a legal defect with the marriage celebration or a spouse’s unknown disability. For example, it is possible to obtain an annulment under the following situations:
- one spouse is already married to someone else;
- one spouse is a minor and married without parental permission;
- the marriage was forced upon and/or contracted in a fraudulent or fearful situation;
- one spouse lacked the mental capacity to understand the meaning of marriage;
- proper consent was not given or obtained;
- the spouses are too closely related to each other (either by blood or adoption); or
- one spouse is unable, or refuses, to consummate the marriage (defined as sexual intercourse with each other, at least once, after being married).
Although there is no exact time limitation on when spouses can obtain an annulment, annulments are generally used to end marriages that have lasted for a very short period of time.
Sonia Rotondo, Attorney-at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats Inc.