You’re out for a night on the town while on a well deserved trip to Las Vegas, consuming alcoholic beverage after beverage (as has been known to happen in Sin City). You wake up the next morning only to find that you are sharing a bed with a complete stranger that you met just the night before. Then, to your horror, you realize you are both wearing brand new rings on that all too meaningful fourth finger. I’m sure this scene is familiar to you, although perhaps not personally, as it forms the plot of numerous Hollywood movies.

You panic – what are the implications of your recent nuptials? Can it actually be undone, or annulled, as they often say in the movies? The short answer is yes, if acted upon quickly, a decree of nullity may be obtained.

There are numerous requirements in Canada to create or enter into a ‘valid marriage’. One of those requirements is that the parties entering into the marriage possess the mental capacity to do so. Where mental capacity is absent, for example, because one party is intoxicated and is therefore deprived of reason or freewill, it is possible to have the marriage declared void by way of a decree of nullity.   

In the case of intoxication, a decree of nullity declares that there never was a marriage. That said, a marriage which is otherwise void by reason of intoxication is capable of rectification (becoming valid) if the newly married couple continues to live together as a couple.

So when the party’s over and you’ve done something that could have severe legal implications, be timely in consulting a lawyer