Separation and divorce
Annulment of a marriage
Are you wondering if it’s possible to have your marriage annulled, instead of getting a divorce? In this article, we look at the situations in which annulment of a marriage is possible, the steps involved, and the legal consequences of annulment.
What is annulment of a marriage?
Annulment of a marriage is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage, as though the couple was never married.
In which situations can a marriage be annulled?
To have a marriage annulled, you must prove that one of the legal conditions for getting married was not respected and, therefore, you did not have the legal right to marry.
Here are some examples of reasons for having a marriage annulled:
- one of the spouses was still married to another person at the time of the marriage,
- the spouses are brother and sister,
- one of the spouses was under age 16 at the time of the marriage,
- one of the spouses used the marriage as a means to immigrate to Canada and never intended to make a life together with the other spouse,
- the person who officiated the marriage did not respect mandatory formalities, such as verifying the identities of the spouses.
When is marriage annulment not possible?
Your marriage cannot be annulled if all the legal requirements for a marriage were met. This is the case even if you and your ex would both like to have the marriage annulled.
Courts can refuse an application for marriage annulment if you and your ex conspired to enter a fake marriage for immigration purposes or to obtain some other advantage, such as an increased amount scholarships.
If an annulment is not possible, you will have to apply for a legal separation or a divorce if you would like to make your separation official.
How do you request a marriage annulment in Quebec?
The application is filed in Quebec Superior Court. You may wish to engage the services of a lawyer specialized in family law to prepare the application.
A person other than the spouses can also apply to have a marriage annulled, however they must have some interest in doing so. This could be, for example:
- the liquidator (executor) or an heir,
- a new spouse,
- a child of the spouses.
What is the time limit for requesting a marriage annulment?
In general, the time limit is three years from the date the marriage took place.
However, a marriage can be annulled even after that if the marriage violated a rule of “public order”, that is, a rule of public well-being for which there are no exceptions.
This might be the case, for example, if one of the spouses did not provide free and informed consent when the marriage took place.
The court will examine the situation to see if the marriage is contrary to fundamental social values.
Can you request an annulment in Quebec if the marriage took place elsewhere?
Yes, you can apply for an annulment in Quebec, provided that one of the spouses is domiciled in Quebec at the time of the annulment application.
Do you have to share your property?
That depends on your particular situation. The court will decide if the spouses have to share their property.
In arriving at a decision, the court will look at the circumstances under which the marriage took place. Above all, it will consider whether you acted in good faith, that is, you were sincere and honest.
Can you ask for support payments from your ex-spouse?
Yes, you can ask for support payments for yourself as part of your annulment application. The court will consider each spouse’s financial situation in arriving at a decision.
Will you have obligations regarding your children?
If you had children together, you and your spouse must continue to make major decisions together regarding the children. These include things like parenting time (custody and visiting rights), medical decisions, choice of school, and trips outside of Quebec.
You must also continue to support your children financially. For example, one spouse may have to make child support payments to the other spouse.
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The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.
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