When we usually blog about couples deciding to end their relationship, it is usually in the context of separation or divorce. And while those are by-and-far the most common ways for a marriage to end, they are not alone in the role. Another less-common, and as a result less-discussed way for a marriage to end is through annulment. Unlike a divorce, which officially ends a marriage, an annulment is a determination that the marriage never existed in the first place. There could be a few reasons to annul a marriage. For example, it might be discovered that one of the spouses was already married, and therefore could not marry a second person. Another reason a marriage may be annulled is due to the non-consummation of the relationship, meaning the parties did not engage in sexual intercourse. However, it’s not enough for intercourse not to occur, as is seen in a recent decision from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
The parties met in 2005, with the relationship starting off as a platonic one. By 2013 the relationship had become romantic, and they began cohabitating in November of that year. Both the husband and the wife said they had a healthy sexual relationship at that time.
Their relationship did not remain monogamist, however. At some point after they started living together, they agreed to have sex with other people while maintaining their relationship.
The wife had was injured in a car accident in 2014. It impacted various parts of her life, though the extent to which it limited her ability or desire for sexual activity was undetermined.
The parties became engaged in March 2017 and were married in a civil ceremony in Alberta in January, 2019. At this point they had not had sex since the previous summer. In February 2019 they invited friends to a destination ceremony in Mexico. By September of that year the husband had filed an application for annulment on September 5, 2019.
The court explained that the mere lack of sexual intercourse alone does not provide grounds for annulment of a marriage. Instead, it can only lead to annulment if there is an incapacity springing from physical or psychological limitations beyond the control of the refusing party.
This requirement was a source of disagreement between the parties. The wife stated that while she was injured in the car accident, the injuries in no way affected her inability to engage in sexual intercourse with the husband.
The husband, meanwhile, stated in an affidavit that the wife was off work due to a “psychological disability.” He also referred to the wife’s “mental illness,” though no other documentation made mention of the term. The wife did meet regularly with a psychologist, and the husband said, “my belief is based on those medical documents and my experience with (the wife) and the interactions with (the wife), that is why I believe we meet the grounds for an annulment.”
The court found that the husband failed to provide medical evidence that there was a physical or psychological reason why the parties had not consummated their marriage. Instead, the court found that it appears as though they simply lost interest in the sexual aspect of their relationship. This, according to the court, fell far short of establishing any incapacity.
Separations can be uncertain and emotional. Your best plan through this transition is to have an experienced family lawyer on your side to provide guidance and assistance and to protect your legal rights. Contact NULaw online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation with our experienced divorce lawyer.