The Morning After A Shotgun Wedding: Can You Seek An Annulment?

Posted on: 3 September 2015

Falling head over heels in love can make you act in impulsive ways that may involve extremely poor decision-making. Some couples who find themselves married after a whirlwind, short-lived romance, wake up the day after their nuptials horrified that they are hitched. One way to rectify this unfortunate situation is to get the marriage annulled. If you find yourself regretting your wedding within days of getting married, the following guide can help you figure out if you can pursue an annulment to invalidate your legal bond.

Valid Grounds for an Annulment

As soon as you realize that you have made a grave error in getting married, you need to hire an attorney with experience in family law cases specific to your province. While divorces in Canada fall under federal law, annulments are handled by provincial courts. However, the grounds for seeking an annulment are similar across provinces.

In general, you can only apply for an annulment if:

  • You find out that your spouse was already married before your wedding (making them guilty of polygamy)
  • You or your spouse was mentally incapable of understanding what marriage entailed at the time of the nuptials
  • You were too young when you submitted your marriage application
  • Your spouse lied to you or committed fraud to trick you into marriage
  • You got married under duress or as the result of threats
  • You and your spouse are too closely related by blood

You can also apply for an annulment if the union cannot be consummated due to a physical limitation by one partner. However, no matter what reasons you give, you are at the mercy of the courts when you want to void your marriage.

Going to Court

When you want to annul a marriage, you will need to gather evidence to present to the court to support your request. Since the legal grounds for annulment are very narrow, it is imperative to have legal representation in order to increase your chances of having the court approve your request. If you are denied an annulment, you only recourse to end the marriage will be a divorce.

If your spouse is a foreigner, your situation will be even more complicated. If the annulment is granted, you may also need to consult an immigration lawyer to determine if your spouse will be able to stay in Canada.

Religious vs. Legal Annulment

Some religious denominations also perform annulments for couples who need to have their marriages invalidated. In addition, if you belong to a faith that does not believe in divorce, annulment may be your only option for becoming single again in the eyes of your community.

However, be aware that religious annulments are not recognized by provincial governments. While you may need to undergo a religious annulment to satisfy your faith community, you also need to go through the court process. Otherwise, you are still married in the eyes of the law.

Life After an Annulment

If there were children involved in the short-lived marriage, you will have to comply with child support and custody rules for your province. Furthermore, if your ex claims they are entitled to property and assets acquired during the union, you could be headed to court again to settle any disputes.

When it comes to these issues, an annulment does not provide you with any advantages over getting a divorce. However, if there are no minors involved and no property claims, you will be free to live your life as if you were never legally bound by marriage to someone else.

If you ever decide to get married again, make sure to have an attorney draw up a prenuptial agreement so you will be protected in case the union does not survive.

Click for more information on family law and obtaining legal representation to help guide you through the process of ending your marriage.