South Asian couple not granted annulment of marriage by B.C. Supreme Court

THE B.C. Supreme Court has refused to grant A.G. and A.S.B. an annulment of their marriage even though both wanted it because the judge found no relevant grounds to justify it.

The couple were married on August 20, 2020, in Richmond. According to their affidavits, they went to a park accompanied by family members to take wedding photographs. A serious argument took place between the couple. A.G. became very upset and immediately left the park. She abandoned the rest of the wedding festivities, and advised A.S.B. that she did not wish for the marriage to continue.

They did not consummate the marriage and wanted it annulled, according to court documents.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven noted in his ruling: “However, the law relating to annulment of marriage is governed by common law.  Where annulment of a marriage is claimed, various findings of fact must be made, depending on the precise grounds advanced.”

The ruling stated: “In this case, the materials filed do not support an annulment. There is no evidence that would support the conclusion that the marriage is void … There is no evidence to suggest that the parties were not capable of being married to each other, or that their consent to the marriage was invalid, or that the marriage ceremony itself did not comply with the formal requirements pursuant to the Marriage Act,” adding: “In fact, the evidence they have adduced shows exactly the opposite.”

It noted: “There is a presumption of valid marriage with consent if the marriage ceremony followed the requisite formalities. The burden of proof is on the person seeking the annulment to show otherwise.”

The ruling said: “Nor does the evidence indicate that the marriage is voidable. There seems to be a common misconception that a marriage is voidable simply if it is not consummated, in the sense that following the marriage, the parties engaged in sexual relations.  The law is not that simple. In order to obtain annulment of the marriage, on the grounds of failure to consummate, it is not sufficient for the parties to simply establish that they have not had sexual intercourse since the marriage.”

The ruling also pointed out: “If a platonic marriage was intended by the parties, then the absence of sexual intercourse cannot be grounds for annulment of the marriage.”

The judge said: “It appears quite clear to me in this case that failure to consummate the marriage has nothing to do with the wishes of the parties for an annulment. There is no evidence, for example, that either party is physically or psychologically incapable of sexual relations with the other.

“Therefore, even though both parties agree that they would like to have an order annulling the marriage, as no relevant grounds for annulment have been shown, the order cannot be granted.”