Although they are rare, marriage annulments have been a fact of life for hundreds of years. In fact, England’s King Henry VIII was so desperate to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon that he left the Catholic Church to found his own religion that would allow him to dissolve the union.
In British Columbia, marriage annulment is difficult but possible. If granted, it means it’s unnecessary to get a divorce, and your marriage will be considered to have never occurred in the eyes of the law. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the qualifying criteria for a marriage annulment, and how to annul a marriage in British Columbia.
Marriage Annulment – Establishing Legal Defects
In order for a marriage to be annulled certain legal criteria need to be met. The term used regularly in annulment cases is a “legal defect.” Basically, a legal defect is an issue that would prevent one (or both) spouses from legally becoming married. Below are some of the most common types of legal defects that force annulments:
- One party is already in a pre-existing marriage
- One spouse is under the legal age to become married
- Both spouses discover they are closely related by blood (or adoption)
- One of the parties was intoxicated or mentally unfit for marriage
In less common scenarios, a marriage can also be annulled if it hasn’t yet been consummated, or it can be proven one of the parties was forced into the union against their will.
Marriage Annulment – How it Works
Like seeking a divorce, parties looking to annul their marriage must apply to the British Columbia Supreme Court. This process requires a court appearance, even when it’s uncontested by the other party. It is a complicated and expensive process, and it’s highly recommended to enlist the support of a family law expert. While there’s no time limit on the annulment process, the British Columbia Supreme Court will place heavy emphasis on how long the applicant was married before beginning the legal process. Therefore, the earlier into the life of a marriage the annulment process begins, the more likely it is to succeed.
Got Questions About Marriage Annulment?
Westside Family Law are experts in the legal issues surrounding marriage. No matter what questions you have about the marriage annulment process, we’ll be happy to help. Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your unique needs.