How to get a Marriage Annulment in British Columbia? - Zukerman Law

How to get a Marriage Annulment in British Columbia?

A marriage annulment legally declares that a marriage never existed. Unlike divorce, an annulment erases the marriage completely. Annulments are granted when specific legal requirements for marriage are not met. An annulment can provide relief when a marriage is entered under false pretenses. But the process is complex, involving petitioning the court. This brief overview sets the stage to explore annulments further.

What is a Marriage Annulment?

What is a Marriage Annulment?

A marriage annulment in BC is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void, as if it never legally existed. This differs from a divorce, which terminates a legally recognized marriage. An annulled marriage is considered invalid from the start, essentially erasing its existence in legal terms. The process and recognition of annulment can vary based on local laws and jurisdictions.

What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment?

Understanding the difference between a divorce and an annulment is crucial, especially when considering the legal process in British Columbia.

A divorce marks the end of a legally valid marriage. It acknowledges that the marriage existed but has now been dissolved. This process typically involves addressing issues like property division, child custody, and spousal support.

In contrast, an annulment is a legal declaration that the marriage was never valid in the first place. It erases the marriage as if it never existed legally. This distinction is significant because an annulled marriage, from a legal standpoint, is treated as though it never happened, which can have different implications for the individuals involved, particularly in terms of legal records and certain marital obligations.

What Are the Legal Grounds for Obtaining an Annulment in British Columbia?

What Are the Legal Grounds for Obtaining an Annulment in British Columbia?

In British Columbia, annulments are granted under specific circumstances that legally invalidate a marriage from its beginning. Here are the specific scenarios that can lead to an annulment in this province:

  • One partner was already legally married to someone else.
  • Either partner was underage without required parental consent.
  • There is a close blood or adoptive relationship between the partners.
  • A lack of understanding about the nature and responsibilities of marriage.
  • One partner was forced into the marriage against their will.
  • The marriage ceremony was not performed legally.
  • Inability to consummate the marriage due to physical inability or mental condition unknown at the time of marriage, and not due to a decision not to have sex.

These reasons highlight the specific and serious circumstances under which an annulment can be granted in British Columbia.

What Situations Do Not Qualify for an Annulment in British Columbia?

Understanding what doesn’t lead to an annulment in British Columbia is just as important as knowing what does. Many people might think that certain reasons, driven by personal motives or the length of the marriage, could qualify for annulment, but this is not the case. For instance, marrying someone to gain immigration benefits does not make the marriage eligible for annulment. Similarly, the duration of the marriage, whether it lasted years or just a few days, isn’t a factor in determining eligibility for annulment. These aspects, while significant in their own right, do not influence the legal validity of a marriage under British Columbia law.

How do I get an annulment in British Columbia?

How do I get an annulment in British Columbia?

When seeking an annulment in British Columbia, it’s essential to engage with the legal system correctly. To start, you must apply to the right court, specifically a Superior Court of Justice or a Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice. This begins with completing and submitting the required form(s).

An annulment requires you to attend a court hearing in person to present evidence that the marriage was invalid under one of the legal grounds. Going through the court process makes getting an annulment more expensive and time-consuming than getting a divorce.

Understanding your rights is important even if you get an annulment. The court will consider your specific situation, including the date of your marriage and the reason for seeking annulment. You may still have rights similar to a married partner, such as the division of property, staying in your matrimonial home, or receiving spousal support. If children are involved, claims for child support, decision-making responsibility, and parenting time are always valid.

Consulting a lawyer can provide clarity on the law and your options, guiding you through the court process. If hiring a lawyer for the entire case is beyond your means, consider “unbundled services” for assistance with specific parts of your case. There are also other avenues for legal help if you are unable to afford a lawyer.

Understanding Religious Annulments in British Columbia

Understanding Religious Annulments in British Columbia

When considering annulment in British Columbia, it’s important to understand the distinction between legal and religious annulment. A religious annulment granted by a faith organization does not carry the same legal weight as a court-ordered annulment. For instance, those who wish to remarry within their faith, especially in religions that do not recognize divorce, may seek a religious annulment. This type of annulment is governed by the rules and criteria of the religious institution and is separate from the legal process. It’s important to consult with religious leaders to understand the specific requirements for a religious annulment in your faith community.

How long can marriage be annulled in BC?

How long can marriage be annulled in BC?

There is no set time limit for how long after a marriage an annulment can be granted in British Columbia. The length of the marriage does not matter for an annulment application. An annulment can be given at any time if the marriage is found to be invalid. Though the annulment process is complicated, expensive, and requires going to court, it is recommended to get help from a family lawer.


Going through a divorce or separation can be complicated and costly. The lawyers at Zukerman Law Group in Surrey, British Columbia, can help guide you through the legal process and find the best solution for your situation. Whether you need to end your marriage or just get legal advice, call 604-575-5464 to speak with one of our family law attorneys. We may be able to suggest alternatives if an annulment is not possible for you. Our goal is to make this difficult process a little easier by providing experienced legal help.

author

Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.