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There was a time when couples who claimed their marriages couldn't be consummated were forced to prove they couldn't copulate in front of a jury. The B. Supreme Court judge recently granted a Lower Mainland woman an annulment, and the only sheets Baker had to examine were made of paper — the affidavits in which the unhappy couple testified about their inability to have intercourse.
The decision provides a peek behind the curtains of a legal procedure so rare, Statistics Canada doesn't even track the s. Vancouver family and estate lawyer Amanda James says she handles requests for divorce on a daily basis, but she's never had to help a client secure an annulment — much less prove one half of the union wasn't up to their so-called "marital duties.
Annulments are the exception, not the norm," says James, who blogged about the B. It's far easier to get an uncontested divorce. James says a claimant might seek an annulment on the grounds they were forced to wed against their will, or didn't have the capacity to enter into a marital contract. But absent those grounds, the marriage bed is the only other place to look for excuses.
In the case before Justice Baker, the woman wanted her marriage voided for religious reasons. She claimed her husband couldn't maintain an erection. The judge's ruling delves into the history of annulment — specifically, the burden of proof needed to establish a marriage really can't be consummated. According to a Paris Review articlethe trials Baker referred to involved couples having sex in semi-private quarters, while close family, legal observers and doctors awaited nearby. Beforeonly ecclesiastical courts dealt with annulments, but they have since become the domain of civil courts of common law.
The legal precedents around annulment in Canada appear to have come as a result of episodes in some of the nation's chilliest bedrooms. In a case, a Peterborough couple spent the first four nights of their marriage in the same bed in the husband's parents' home before the husband tried anything. The wife said he made three or four attempts at intercourse, "but on no occasion was he able to do so, although she was willing. Inanother Ontario judge refused to grant an annulment despite a doctor's confirmation that a woman was "virgo intacta" and testimony that her husband had told his father, "I guess I am not man enough for her.
Decades ago, Baker said, judges wouldn't grant an annulment if there was a possibility the incapacity to consummate a marriage might be cured or terminated. As such, Baker said it wouldn't be necessary for the husband in the B. From the date of their marriage until Marchthey attempted sexual intercourse each month — though the couple differ on how many times a week, and who was most willing to try.
The couple stopped living together after the woman asked her husband to see a doctor, who ended up assuring them both there was "nothing wrong" with the man.
According to the judge, the man blamed the woman for their failure to consummate and even claimed that "he has a new girlfriend, and they have sexual intercourse regularly. James says she finds the case fascinating, noting that law is made at the "intersection of very strange sets of facts. It doesn't matter how fancy your car is or how fancy your house is — people are still people at the end of the day.
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the conversation Create. Already have an ? No sex, no marriage, rules B. Social Sharing. Justice Wendy Baker can be thankful she doesn't live in 17th-century Spain or France. Boiling ramen noodles a weapon in vicious feud between B. Corrections An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Vancouver family and estate lawyer who blogged about the case.
Her name is Amanda James.
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Does Vancouver seem to have a noticeably high of single women in their 30's?