Thursday, 2 August 2012

Can I get an Annulment?

A while ago, a short article ran in the Vancouver Province about Reese Witherspoon’s mother. It seems that Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon filed a Petition in court to have her husband’s second marriage annulled. Mrs. Witherspoon reported that although she has been separated from her husband since 1996, she does not want to divorce him.

Given that John Drake Witherspoon remains married to Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon, his marriage to Tricianne Taylor – the second Mrs. Witherspoon is a void marriage and in Canada, technically, would not require an annulment since it is void ‘ab initi’ -- as if “it never happened”.

None the less, since the second marriage is likely registered, it would be necessary to apply to the Court for an annulment.

In Canada, you would want to ensure that Justice Canada, which keeps track of all marriages and divorces, recognizes that the union was terminated.

In contrast to the Witherspoons’ scenario, some couples seek an annulment on the basis that their marriage is voidable, which is to say, that it is real marriage until the Supreme Court of British Columbia declares otherwise.

Couples can seek an annulment from the Court for any of the following reasons:

  1. The spouses were too young to marry (girls – 12; boys – 14),
  2. Either or both of the spouses were under pressured into the marriage,
  3. One spouse did not disclose to the other his or her inability to have children,
  4. The marriage could not be consummated,
  5. The intent to marry was insincere or otherwise fraudulent.
Until the Supreme Court of British Columbia declares the marriage annulled, the union is legal and binding. However, with only some exceptions, the Court is extremely hesitant to annul marriages.

Given that the divorce process is simple, quick and does not require a court appearance, it may not be worth the effort to seek an annulment of the marriage unless a very strong case can be made for the annulment.

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