MARRIAGE – Annulment of marriage – Reasons – Lack of consumption

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Appeal by the wife of the dismissal of her motion for a declaration annulling her civil marriage to the respondent for non-consummation. The chambers judge admitted that there was no consummation of the marriage, but found that the parties did not meet the common law requirement of non-consummation resulting from physical or psychological disability. The parties were married in a civil ceremony in 2019. They wanted to be married in a civil ceremony so that they could live together, which would be against their religion, but postponed consumption until they have undergone a traditional Gurdwara ceremony. Relations between the parties deteriorated and the wife left the home a few months after the civil ceremony.

DECISION: Appeal allowed. Civil marriage was a nullity. In Canada’s multicultural society, the common law principles at issue here must be applied contextually, in accordance with the cultural norms of the parties seeking annulment. Psychological disability could result as significantly from sincere religious and cultural beliefs as other forms of psychological aversion, both of which are, contextually, a normal and predictable reaction. The judge did not fully appreciate the role that an honest and sincere religious belief could play in determining incapacity. The evidence established that the real aversion to consumption arose out of the religious beliefs of the parties, creating real incapacity in this case.

Kaur vs. Singh, [2021] BCJ No. 1853, British Columbia Court of Appeal, PM Willcock, J. DeWitt-Van Oosten and JC Grauer JJ.A., August 27, 2021. Digest No. TLD-September202021004


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