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Life is full of surprises, but imagine the surprise of finding out years after tying the knot that you and your partner aren’t actually married at all? That’s what recently happened to an Ontario couple, who went to court to sort things out.
The first marriage
The husband had married his first wife (“the first wife”) on November 29, 2011. The marriage was short lived, and the couple separated in 2012. The husband initiated the divorce proceedings in 2013, but it was not until December 5, 2018 that the divorce order was granted. The divorce order’s certificate of divorce set January 5, 2019 as the date the divorce took effect.
The reason the divorce took so long to complete was because the husband and his lawyers had a difficult time locating the first wife.
By the time the husband and wife’s relationship began to get serious, they both assumed that the divorce between he and the first wife was complete. They got married on August 14, 2017, not knowing that the husband was still legally married.
It wasn’t until the husband attempted to sponsor the wife in her move to Canada that they were made aware something wasn’t right. After the wife sent in her application, the husband received a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada stating he was not eligible to sponsor her because their marriage was not valid on account of his already being married.
This predicament led the couple to court in order to figure out a solution.
The legal analysis
The court turned to the province’s Annulment of Marriages Act which grants the court the jurisdiction to annul a marriage. Meanwhile, a 2004 decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice addresses situations such as the one being discussed, stating “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.”
Furthermore, the Civil Marriages Act prohibits people from entering into a marriage until all previous marriages are dissolved.
The end result of this analysis is that the court found there to be no need to annul the marriage since it had not legally occurred in the first place. Since the husband’s first marriage was now divorced, however, the couple was free to get married again, this time for real.
No matter what type of family law issue you are going through, we are here to help you in your time of need. Contact Gelman & Associates to learn how experienced family law lawyers can help protect your rights and assets during a separation, divorce or any other family law matter. In order to be available to clients and prospective clients, our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM. Call us at (844) 769-0737 or 1-844-769-0737 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.