Judge allows annulment because husband couldn’t keep erection

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A Canadian judge annulled a marriage because the husband was unable to maintain an erection long enough to have sex.

The recent British Columbia Supreme Court ruling details how a wife sought annulment because her husband was unable to consummate their marriage, despite their attempts to have sex every month for nearly d ‘one year after their marriage in August 2018.

In British Columbia, “a marriage is voidable when an applicant has established that his or her spouse does not have the capacity to consummate the marriage,” says the decision.

The couple never had sex and stopped living together in September 2019.

The man “does not dispute the fact that at no time during the marriage was he able to maintain an erection and obtain penetration,” the decision specifies.

To obtain an annulment on the grounds of failure to consume, at least one of the spouses must be unable to have sex in the broad sense “due to a physical or psychological incapacity” within the marriage. Whether the helpless person is able to have sex with others does not influence the case.

The husband told the court that he blamed his former wife for her impotence and that he was currently having sex with someone else.

“The respondent states that he has a new girlfriend and that they have sex on a regular basis,” the ruling states, adding that there was no evidence to confirm whether this is true.

Because divorces are readily available, annulment is rare now. But the wife requested an annulment on religious grounds, according to the ruling. A divorce legally recognizes that a marriage has taken place, but an annulment wipes the slate clean – it’s like the couple had never been married to begin with.

The “ecclesiastical courts”, or religious courts, had authority over such disputes. But in 1857, the ordinary courts took over.

The amount of evidence needed to prove impotence has decreased over time. Historically, the bar for establishing that a partner was incapable of consummating a marriage has gone from forcing spouses to attempt the act before decision-makers to prove that impotence was permanent and incurable.

“I am convinced that the extremely high standard of proof required in previous centuries resulted from an apparent horror of the powerlessness in the cultural norms of the time,” wrote Justice Wendy Baker, who decided the case. “I am not convinced that this extremely high standard of proof is necessary or appropriate today.”

Similar cases have occurred across Canada, although they are rare. In 2019, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted a couple an annulment after a husband said his wife’s anxiety prevented them from having sex.

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