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Alberta family law: Differences between separtion and annulment

When couples make the decision to end their relationships, they have a few choices regarding how to do that under the law. In Alberta, as in the rest of the country, those who are married can choose to separate or to divorce, while those living together can choose to separate. Under family law in the province, there is also the option of annulling a marriage under specified circumstances.

In Alberta, an interdependent adult relationship is defined as living together for three years, or less than three years if an agreement has been signed. It also could be less than three years if the couple has a child. Under the law, the relationship is deemed to have ended when a couple has no longer lived together for one or more years. Couples can choose to end the relationship with a formal separation agreement that spells out things like child support, child custody and spousal support.

An annulment, on the other hand, stipulates that the marriage was never valid to begin with or never even existed. For the most part, it is pretty rare and can only be issued by a court order under certain circumstances. These include if one person was already married to someone else when the marriage took place; the marriage happened under coercion; one or both parties was impaired during the ceremony; if one or both people are under the age of 18; if the marriage cannot be consummated or if one person believes he or she is marrying a certain person and ends up marrying someone else.

Alberta residents who think their marriages qualify for an annulment might wish to speak to a lawyer who has experience in family law. A lawyer may be able to expound on the differences between an annulment and a separation or a divorce. A lawyer will be able to review a client's individual case and make recommendations for resolving these kinds of family law problems.

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