The Difference Between An Annulment And A Divorce

June 24, 2021 Blog No Comments »

Divorce and annulments are two legal ways to end a marriage in Canada. Both processes require an application to the Court and a court order which legally ends the marriage. In Canada, divorce is much more common than an annulment because annulments can only happen under very specific circumstances.

In this article, we will discuss the grounds for divorce and what is required to get a marriage annulled in Canada.

What are the grounds for divorce?

In order to have a divorce granted in Canada, your marriage must meet at least one of the following three criteria:

  • There has been a separation of at least one year.
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty

The majority of divorces in Canada are granted because the spouses have been separated for one year or more. Usually, courts are not interested in hearing complaints about adultery because it makes no difference in their decisions regarding property division.

In cases where there is cruelty, such as domestic violence, the courts will grant a divorce without the spouses having to be separated for a year.

When can you be granted an annulment?

Annulments are rare in Canada because you must prove that you and your spouse were never legally married in the first place. For example, you may be able to get an annulment in one of the following circumstances:

  1. One partner was still married to someone else.
  2. One spouse was less than 16 years old.
  3. One spouse was 16 or 17, but they did not have their parents’ permission to marry.
  4. The spouses were closely related to each other by blood or by adoption.
  5. One spouse did not realize what it meant when they got married.
  6. One spouse was forced into the marriage.
  7. The person performing the marriage ceremony did not have the authority to do so.
  8. The marriage could not be consummated due to a physical or mental limitation that was unknown at the time of the marriage.

Religious annulment

While a religious annulment does not end a marriage legally (only a court order can do that), it can end a marriage in the eyes of that particular religion. Some religions may practice this so that the person exiting the union can still remarry another person of that religion.

Divorce vs. annulment vs religious annulment

Even if you are from a religious community that doesn’t recognize your court order for divorce, you are still considered legally divorced in the eyes of the legal system and government.

Some religions will not recognize legal divorces or annulments, so you may still have to get a religious annulment if you wish to remarry someone of that same faith. To understand more about the reasoning for this, you should speak to your religious leader (rabbi, priest, imam, etc.).

Contact Marcy Segal today

If you have decided that you would like to file for divorce – or if you think you meet the criteria to get an annulment – it is vital that you work with a good family lawyer who can help you through the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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