Capacity to Marry: The Case of Tanti v Tanti et al

  • July 03, 2021
  • Jennifer Corak, Miller Thomson LLP

In the case of Tanti v Tanti et al., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was tasked with determining whether Paul Tanti was capable of marrying his “much-younger, live-in companion,” Sharon Joseph.[1]

In 2014, Paul went to a community organization looking for help with small jobs at his home. Sharon subsequently attended at Paul’s home to assist with some exterior painting.  They became friends and, around 2017, they began to refer to one another as “companions” with family, friends, and professionals. Paul and Sharon spent time together and with friends and family. In early 2018, Sharon moved into Paul’s house after he expressed a desire for a more intimate relationship with her.

Paul had a son, Raymond, who visited once a week to drop off groceries, exchange Paul’s laundry and check in on him.  Raymond did not like Sharon and pressured Paul to end the relationship with her. In February 2018, Raymond took Paul to see a gerontologist, who found that Paul had cognitive impairment of a moderate degree but that he could live independently with assistance.  Raymond did not speak with Sharon about Paul’s dementia or capacity.

Next, we fast forward to Paul’s 89th birthday in January 2019, when Paul asked Sharon to marry him. Sharon was hesitant as she was worried that Raymond would be angry.  Paul, however, did not give up. In June 2019, he asked Sharon to marry him again, expressing his concern about losing her and his hope that Raymond would stop bothering them if they were married.  Paul bought Sharon an engagement ring later in June, and the couple took steps to plan their wedding.