It’s not uncommon for people to renew their wedding vows when marking a milestone anniversary. In an interesting twist to that practice, an Ontario couple recently applied to the Superior Court of Justice to have their marriage declared null. The reason? It turns out they hadn’t been properly married, and they wanted to do it again, this time making sure it was done right.

An unwelcome surprise

The husband and wife were married on August 4, 2017. Following the marriage, the husband applied to sponsor the wife as a spouse for immigration purposes. It was after applying that he husband received correspondence from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that he was not eligible to sponsor his wife because he was already married to someone else.

It turns out the husband entered his first marriage (to “the first wife”) on November 29, 2011. They separated in 2012 and the husband initiated divorce proceedings in 2013. A divorce order was subsequently granted on December 5, 2018, with a certificate of divorce establishing the date for the divorce as January 5, 2019.

The divorce had taken so long to process because the husband’s lawyers had difficulty locating the first wife. Her and the husband had not maintained contact.

With the first marriage only having officially ended on January 5, 2019, the couple sought to have their 2017 wedding annulled so that they could marry again, this time with the husband legally able to do so.

The court assesses the situation

The Superior Court is granted the right to annul marriages through the Annulment of Marriages Act. One of the grounds for an annulment to be grated is due to one of the parties being in a previously existing marriage. A 2004 case from the court stated, “A previous existing marriage is a common law ground for annulment, and the marriage of a person who is still married to someone else is void.”

The court pointed out that the Civil Marriages Act also prohibits a person from entering into a marriage until any previous marriages are dissolved (either by death, divorce, or being declared null by a court order).

Finally, the court stated that a void marriage is one that is null and void from its inception, which means that it has essentially not happened. In this case, the court was satisfied that the parties could not have been legally married since the husband’s first marriage was still in place. As a result, the marriage between the parties was declared void.

Whether you find yourself in a situation similar to the parties in this case, or if you are experiencing the ending of a longtime relationship, the experienced and compassionate team at Borden Family Law is ready to help.  We will help you through this process and help resolve any outstanding disputes. For over 17 years we have helped thousands of clients in Oshawa, Brooklin, and the surrounding areas through the divorce process, ensuring that their legal and financial interests are taken care of and helping them to begin a new stage in their lives.  To learn how we can help, call us at 905-576-6090 or contact us online.