September 28, 2023

The details in Anthony v. Oqunbiyi have been a bit of uncommon:  A former couple have been in dispute over a number of issues, starting with the important thing query of whether or not they have been truly married to one another. 

The girl stated they’d had a non secular wedding ceremony at their church in 2004. This was whereas the lady was pregnant and so they have been residing collectively.

The person conceded that the ceremony passed off. However he stated the 2004 marriage was not legitimate, since he was nonetheless married to another person at the moment.  His divorce didn’t happen till a yr later, in 2005. Within the man’s view, this meant the lady was legally not his “partner”, and the house they shared was not a “matrimonial house” topic to Household Regulation Act (FLA) equalization. He requested the court docket to make a declaration accordingly, and to order the lady should vacate his house as a result of she was trespassing.

Desperate to protect her rights beneath the FLA, the lady defined she merely didn’t know the legal guidelines in Ontario relating to marriage, since she had arrived in Canada from Nigeria. She had married the person “in good religion”, consistent with the provincial Marriage Act.  That laws deemed such marriages to be legitimate in some instances.  

However this wasn’t one in all them, the court docket stated.  

The issue was that the “good religion” marriage provisions beneath the Marriage Act merely didn’t apply if one of many events was legally disqualified from getting married within the first place – for instance by nonetheless being wed to another person. Because the court docket defined:

On this matter, whereas each the [man] and [woman] might have meant the ceremony to be a wedding ceremony, which I observe that the [man] particularly denies, and whereas they lived collectively as widespread legislation spouses for a lot of years, the wedding was void [from the outset] because the [man] couldn’t enter into a wedding whereas married to a different partner. 

I due to this fact declare that the events usually are not married. 

With that preliminary ruling in place, the lady’s spousal and possessory rights to the house evaporated.  Title was within the man’s title, so authorized possession was clear.

This left the court docket to resolve whether or not she may need different common-law rights, for instance arising from a constructive belief.  However for the reason that girl didn’t make these sorts of claims in her pleadings (pondering all alongside she was a partner), the court docket invited her to use so as to add them. 

As for declaring her a trespasser who should vacate the person’s house: The court docket was unprepared to make that ruling.  She had proof that she had contributed to the house’s maintenance, which could help a constructive belief declare.  Relying on whose proof might be trusted, the lady had been residing within the man’s property since no less than 2017, and possibly earlier.  To this, the court docket stated:

For my part, there was some acquiescence to the [woman’s] presence which appears at odds with a declare she is trespassing, notably if she has been contributing to some extent to the carrying prices of the property.  

She had lawful justification to stay within the property, the court docket stated, and there was nonetheless many different hotly-contested points between them, even together with their date of separation (they have been 10 years aside on that one). Offered the lady added a constructive belief declare to her pleadings, she may keep within the house till trial, when all remaining points can be resolved. 

Full textual content of the choice:

Anthony v. Oqunbiyi, 2023 ONSC 861 (CanLII)