Judge declines marriage annulment for couple who separated on wedding day

A judge has declined to grant an annulment of the marriage of a couple who separated following an argument on their wedding day.

Ameen Grewal and Amarjot Singh Bal tied the knot during a marriage ceremony in Richmond on Aug. 20.

After the ceremony, they went to a local park for wedding photos to be taken, but a serious argument broke out between them, with family members present, according to affidavits filed in court.

In his ruling on the case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven said that it was not necessary for him to recite details of the dispute.

Grewal became “very upset,” immediately left the park and abandoned the rest of the wedding activities, telling Bal that she did not want the marriage to continue.

Rather than seek a divorce, the couple applied to the court for a declaration that the marriage be pronounced null and void.

The application sought an annulment by way of a so-called desk order — an order by the judge after supporting materials were filed and without a hearing of any kind.

But the judge found that it was not appropriate for the application to proceed in that manner and added that the materials filed do not support an annulment.

Verhoeven said there was no evidence that would support the conclusion that the marriage was void.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the parties were not capable of being married to each other, or that their consent to the marriage was invalid, or that the marriage ceremony itself did not comply with the formal requirements pursuant to the Marriage Act,” said the judge.

“In fact, the evidence they had adduced shows exactly the opposite. There is a presumption of valid marriage with consent if the marriage ceremony followed the requisite formalities.”

The judge noted that orders for divorce are commonly granted as desk orders with the evidentiary and procedural requirements for the order being quite clear.

“However, given the findings of fact that are required in order to grant a judgment annulling a marriage, I suggest that an application for a desk order annulling a marriage is almost certainly doomed to fail,” he said.

“Therefore, the more appropriate practice would be to commence an action, and to proceed to a trial, or perhaps a summary trial. Applications for annulment by way of desk order are likely to be a waste of time and expense for the parties, and a waste of judicial resources, as in this case.”

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