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How to Annul Your Wedding in Ontario

A legal annulment is different from a religious annulment. A legal annulment is a court declaration that a marriage is void, as if it never existed in law. This is different from a divorce, which signifies that a valid marriage is now over.

A religious annulment means that you never truly entered into a religious marriage. A religious annulment is not recognized by the government or the courts and the grounds for a religious annulment are often different than a legal annulment. One reason that a person may seek a religious annulment is if the faith does not permit divorcees to remarry in their place of worship. A person who is seeking a religious annulment should speak with his or her religious leader.

In Canada, very few marriages end in a legal annulment. The grounds for annulment are limited to the following:

  • Either party was already married to someone else when the wedding took place;
  • One or both parties were not old enough to marry (you must be at least 16 years old to get married in Ontario. If you are under 18, you need written permission from both parents);
  • The marriage was entered into under duress, coercion, or fraud (“forced consent”);
  • One party lacked the mental capacity to consent to a marriage;
  • One party misunderstood the nature of the marriage ceremony or the identity of the person he or she was marrying, thereby entering into the marriage “by mistake”;
  • One party is unable to consummate the marriage and the other party did not know this before the marriage took place; or
  • The parties were too closely related to each other by blood or adoption, according to the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act.

If you entered into a marriage for immigration reasons, you will not likely be granted an annulment. Courts will not casually order an annulment, as they are reserved for cases where there is a clear capacity issue at the time of marriage in terms of age, voluntariness, or knowledge and understanding. Note that even if you do seek and obtain an annulment, you may still have obligations for support in accordance with Ontario’s Family Law Act.

To apply for an annulment in Ontario, you must file Form 8: Application (General) or Form 8A: Application (Divorce) with the courts, detailing the important facts that support your claim for an annulment. The form you must use depends on whether you are applying alone (Form 8) or jointly with your spouse (Form 8A).