Annulments Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a court order that states that your marriage was never valid. Annulments in Ontario are governed by the Annulment of Marriages Act (the AMA). In order to get an annulment, you must apply to the court and show that there was a defect in either the formal or essential validity of the marriage.

Formal Validity of the Marriage

The formal validity of the marriage is under provincial jurisdiction and refers to a defect in the marriage ceremony. Individuals wanting to marry must refer to and comply with the provincial rules regarding formalities of ceremony. Examples of defects that can invalidate a marriage are:

  • Defective publication of banns.
  • An irregularity in issuing the license.
  • The person who solemnized the marriage is not authorized to do so.

For more information on the issue of the formal validity of a marriage in the context of an annulment, see our blog on the case of Matthews v. Mutiso here.

Essential Validity of the Marriage

The essential validity of the marriage is under federal jurisdiction and refers to an issue related to the capacity of one of the spouses. The defect complained of may take the following forms:

  • Inability to consummate the marriage: this renders the marriage voidable because unless and until one of the parties applies for an annulment, there is a valid and subsisting marriage.
  • Within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity: if two people are related lineally, or as brother and sister or half-siblings, including adoption, then they cannot marry each other.
    • See S.2 and S.4 of the Marriages (Prohibited Degrees) Act, R.S.C. 1990, c. 46
  • Prior existing marriage.
  • Age.
  • Lack of consent due to mental incapacity, duress, limited purpose marriage, fraud, or mistake.

What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?

The result of a divorce and an annulment is essentially the same – the parties are free to remarry or enter a domestic partnership with a new partner. However, while a divorce terminates a legally valid marriage, an annulment treats the marriages as if it never existed. If you are unable to prove a defect in either the formal or essential validity of a marriage, you will have to proceed by obtaining a divorce. Clients who were married for a short period of time often ask if they can get an annulment instead of a divorce because they were only married for a brief period; for more information on short-term marriages, see our video on short-term marriages here.

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    Andrew Feldstein

    Founder

    Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.

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    Jeff Hart

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    Jeff obtained his Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from McMaster University before attending law school at Queen’s.
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    Daphna Schwartz

    Lawyer

    Location: Markham Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously ...
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    Nick Slinko

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    Location: Vaughan Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and ...
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    Anna Troitschanski

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    Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
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    Veronica Yeung

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    Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.
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    Shana Gordon-Katz

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    Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.

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    Rachel Zweig

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    Rachel joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C as a Summer Student in 2019 and returned as an Articling Student in 2020-2021. ...
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    Lauren Harvey

    Associate Lawyer

    Lauren joined Feldstein Family Law Group as a Summer Student in 2020 and returned as an Articling Student in 2021-2022. ...
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    Jessica Gutta

    Associate Lawyer

    Jessica joined Feldstein Family Law Group as a Summer Student in 2020 and returned as an Articling Student in 2021-2022. ...
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