An annulment nullifies a marriage. This legal procedure is most closely linked with the Catholic Church, which believes that marriage is a commitment for life and does not sanction divorce. Traditionally, getting a marriage annulled has been considered tedious, bureaucratic and expensive. However, in Canada, church lawyers have been working to make the process more efficient. Payment for an annulment is typically voluntary, and the proceeding is not delayed if the parties do not provide compensation for the services rendered.
The Annulment Process
Either spouse can initiate annulment proceedings. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, all marriages are valid unless proven otherwise. Following are some conditions under which an annulment will be granted:
If either spouse was already married to someone else when the wedding took place, you are eligible for an annulment.
Marrying someone closely related to you such as a sibling, aunt or uncle is grounds for an annulment.
If either party consented to wed the other based on a misrepresentation or falsehood, an annulment is an option that can be pursued.
- Mental Issues
Mental illness and incapacity are also reasons for an annulment. Examples include one of the spouses being emotionally disturbed at the time of the wedding or being drunk or high on drugs.
- Unconsummated Marriage
If either spouse was unable to have sexual intercourse after the wedding took place, there are also grounds for an annulment.
- Underage Marriage
One of the spouses being too young to legally wed without parental consent is another reason an annulment can be granted.
Applicants typically submit the testimony of witness in order to validate their claims. One of the main reasons the process is believed to be so time consuming in Canada is the Vatican’s rule about appeals. Every annulment decision in the country is automatically sent to the national tribunal in Ottawa for review, even if there is no request for an appeal. There has been a proposal submitted to eliminate this step in the process.
Three Annulment Myths
Both parties have to agree on getting an annulment or it will not be granted. While each spouse has equal rights in the process, a judge can give an annulment even if one of them is adamantly opposed to the proceeding.
- Myth: A Marriage Can’t Be Annulled if the Couple Has Children
Whether or not a couple has children has no bearing on annulment proceedings. Annulments also don’t have any impact on child custody and support arrangements.
- Myth: If You Are Patient, You Will Eventually Be Granted an Annulment
There are absolutely individuals who apply for annulments and don’t get them. While the Catholic Church assists people in understanding the process and exact documentation needed to prove their case, there is definitely the chance the decision will be negative.
Does an Annulment Even Matter?
To very committed Catholics, getting an annulment will probably always be important if they feel the need to apply for one. However, while there is still work to be done to improve the efficiency of the annulment process, overall there are significantly fewer couples requesting annulments in Canada. This is largely due to changing attitudes about marriage. Fewer and fewer Catholic couples feel the need to get married in churches before priests these days. Many choose civil ceremonies or have destination weddings at resorts. If things don’t work out, the majority of couples don’t appear to be concerned with how the Catholic Church thinks they should dissolve their marriage and just proceed with a divorce.
While Canadian church lawyers continue to endeavor to make the process of getting an annulment in the country easier, fewer and fewer couples are even bothering to even apply.