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MARRIAGE - Annulment of marriage - Void or voidable marriages

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 @ 6:26 AM  

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Appeal by Rao from the dismissal of his application to strike the respondent’s claim for a division of property and spousal support. The parties were married in 2016 but their relationship ended a few months later when the respondent learned the appellant was already married. During the relationship, the appellant transferred $17.65 million to a real estate investment company jointly owned by the parties. The application judge declared the parties’ marriage void ab initio but found parties to marriages that were void ab initio were included in the definition of “spouse” in the Family Law Act.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The judge did not err in the interpretation of the definition of “spouse”. Parties to a marriage that was declared void ab initio remained entitled to a division of family property and spousal support under the Family Law Act. The language of s. 3 of the Act did not distinguish between marriages that ended by divorce and those ended by a declaration of nullity. Including persons whose marriage ended by a declaration of nullity in s. 198 required that the meaning of spouse in s. 198 included a person whose marriage was void ab initio. When read in conjunction with s. 3, s. 198 supported the inclusion of parties to marriages that were void ab initio.

Li v. Rao, [2019] B.C.J. No. 1382, British Columbia Court of Appeal, D.C. Harris, J.E.D. Savage and P. Abrioux JJ.A., July 26, 2019. Digest No. TLD-September92019008