Seeking an Annulment in Calgary: A Rare and Difficult Alternative to Divorce Part 2
May 26, 2016
In Part 1 of this article, you read that annulments, unlike divorces, are an attempt to "erase" a marriage as though it never happened. From a legal perspective, this means assigning accounts, debts, property ownership, and other assets and liabilities to each spouse according to their circumstances prior to entering the marriage. Where a divorce tries to find an equitable split based on each spouses’ contribution to the marriage and several other factors, and annulment tries to put both parties in the same condition they were in prior to the marriage.
Clearly, this can lead to complications if there is any property that was purchased during the period of the marriage, or if any jointly-held assets had a significant change in value. The longer a marriage lasts the more likely it is that these complications will arise, which is one reason annulments are more common in marriages that don't last a very long time. Even for shorter-lived marriages, though, annulments are extremely rare, and there are only a few circumstances in which a judge may grant an annulment rather than a divorce.
Grounds for an Annulment in the Calgary Courts
If you think of an annulment as the voiding of a contract, which is essentially what it is from a legal perspective, it might be easier to understand why annulments are so rare. Generally, when two parties agree to a contract they have to live up to it. They can agree to end the contract, which is essentially what a divorce is, but the contract can usually only be erased if it wasn't lawful to begin with.
Similarly, most annulments that are granted by the Calgary Courts involve marriages that weren't legal to begin with. Issues such as age, spouses being too closely related by other family ties prior to their marriage, or a pre-existing legal marriage that hadn't been officially ended at the time the new marriage started, are all grounds for annulment. With each of these issues, a marriage wouldn't have been legally recorded if the issues had been known at the time, so an annulment is correcting an initial legal wrong.
Annulments can also be sought if there were certain types of errors in the marriage ceremony. If it can be shown that a marriage was not legally valid for some reason, the chances that an annulment will be granted increase somewhat.
There are two additional reasons for an annulment that are somewhat more complex, and will be discussed in Part 3 of this article.
Most Calgary Couples Should Seek a Divorce, Not an Annulment
As mentioned above, annulments are very rare in Calgary. Most people seeking to end their marriages should be looking at divorce instead. Every case is unique, however. To schedule an appointment to discuss your particular situation, please contact our office today.
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