Family Law Blog

I Want to Annul My Marriage – What Do I Need to Know?

I Want to Annul My Marriage – What Do I Need to Know?

Considering a marriage annulment? In British Columbia, marriage annulment is rare but there are certain grounds under which it will be granted. If both parties are successful in securing an annulment, it means a divorce becomes unnecessary. In fact, the marriage will be considered to have never happened in the eyes of the law. 

If the result is this clean, you’re likely curious why more people don’t pursue an annulment. Unfortunately, it’s only granted for very specific reasons and most married people won’t qualify. In this week’s blog, we’re going to cover the qualifying criteria for a marriage annulment in BC, and how the marriage annulment process works.

Marriage Annulment – Establishing Legal Defects

In British Columbia, there’s a high legal barrier to getting an annulment. One, or both parties will need to meet certain legal criteria. The term commonly used for these criteria is “legal defect.” This defect is a legal issue that would typically prevent one (or both) spouses from legally becoming married. These defects include:

  • One partner was already married, and the other party didn’t know
  • One partner was under the age of 16
  • One partner was 16 or 17 but didn’t have their parents’ permission
  • Both partners are closely related by blood or adoption
  • One partner didn’t understand the meaning of marriage
  • One partner was forced into the marriage against their will

Marriage Annulment – Problems with the Ceremony

Another route in which marriage annulment is possible is through the ceremony itself. If the marriage ceremony was not performed properly, the marriage is not considered legally to have happened. A real-world example of how this might look is if the marriage celebrant did not have any legal power to marry people. 

While this scenario is rare, it has happened in the past.

Marriage Annulment – Inability to Consummate 

An annulment will be granted if the married couple are unable to have sex. Whether it’s a physical inability, or a mental condition that wasn’t known at the time of the marriage, an inability to consummate is grounds for an annulment. It’s worth noting, a marriage won’t be annulled if both parties simply choose not to have sex.

How the Annulment Process Works

If you qualify under one of the above criteria, marriage annulment petitions are made in 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.