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Caution:  This page contains ONLY GENERAL LEGAL INFORMATION. 
It is NOT LEGAL ADVICE nor a replacement for talking to a lawyer
and getting legal advice about your case.    
The law can be complicated and the details of a case can be even more complicated! 
There are exceptions for every rule. 


What you do not know can harm you.  Do not rely on general legal information.



What is an "Annulment"?
An annulment legally voids the marriage, as if it never happened.


Under Ontario law, for most purposes you will be treated as a former spouse in the same way as if you were divorced [see article] .  However, in some cases, a annulment rather than a divorce can have a serious impact.  For example:

  • it may affect one's right to inherit as your former spouse's wife or husband

  • you may lose survivorship benefits under a pension plan

  • it may not be possible to cover you under your spouse's health benefits

  • it may affect your immigration status, if you were sponsorship as a spouse


Other jurisdictions, outside Ontario and especially outside Canada, may treat annulments differently.


What are the Grounds for an Annulment?
Generally, the grounds for annulment can be divided into these categories:

  • there were technical problems with the wedding

  • the couple are not allowed to marry

  • there was no informed consent to the wedding

  • there were certain types of fraud related to the marriage

  • one of traditional purpose of the marriage is impossible (see below)


Examples are:

  • there was no valid marriage license

  • the person solemnizing the marriage was not legally authorized to conduct marriages

  • the couple are too closely related (siblings, parent/child, or grandparent/grandchild)

  • one of the parties was already married when the wedding occurred

  • one of the parties was too young to legally marry

  • one of the parties did not understand they were getting married (for example, because of a language barrier)

  • one of the parties had a disability that rendered them unable to consent to a marriage (for example, intoxicated or being mentally incapable due to a disability)

  • one of the parties where coerced or forced to marry

  • there was fraud as to the identity of one of the parties

  • PERHAPS because there was fraud as to a party's intent to be married (i.e. be together as husband and wife indefinitely)

  • one of the parties was unable the consummate the marriage (have full sexual intercourse)


Note that merely not consummating the marriage or being unwilling to consummate the marriage is NOT grounds for an annulment.


In some cases the marriage is:

  • void (automatically, regardless of the party's wishes) - for example, if a party was already married,

  • voidable (becomes void if a party request it) - for example, if a party is unable to consummate the marriage, or

  • repairable - for example, if there was no valid marriage license a court can declare the marriage valid despite this failure.


What is the Process?
An application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and service of the documents on the other party is required.  Even if the other party does not respond, some evidence in support of the grounds for annulment is required.


Do You Need A Lawyer?
The rules regarding an annulment can be complicated.  You should get at least good legal advice from a lawyer and preferably full representation in the proceeding.

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