A friend of mine


A friend of mine has a husband who drinks all the time. She doesn’t like it. And wants to divorce him because of it. What do I tell her? Her husband has also cheated on her many times.


Sometimes civil divorce is necessary to protect legal rights - including money and property which would otherwise be ruined or wasted. It can also be necessary to ensure physical or emotional wellbeing and safety. Sometimes it is even necessary as a wake-up call the erring partner needs to motivate them to mend their lives.

The church has no problems with divorce per se in such situations, and as a last resort after all reasonable attempts have been made to save the relationship. ‘Dating’ and remarriage after divorce, without obtaining an annulment, is the problem.

The sacramental bond of marriage still exists even if the legal connection is severed, until such time as one of the partners dies or an annulment (declaring that there never existed a sacramentally binding marriage to begin with) is obtained from the Church. If your friend’s husband has been cheating and drinking throughout their marriage this could provide grounds for annulment, though I’m not a canon lawyer.

Remind your friend, if she has any concerns about such things, that annulment does not mean the children are thought of as being illegitimate or that the marriage relationship was sinful or anything.

Beyond that, it’s up to her, with advice from a good lawyer and her priest, and possibly the marriage tribunal of the diocese, to decide what the best course of action is for her.


Thanks for your input.


Here’s another question I have for you. My friend asked, “You said I have to take first the civil divorce to get the annullment or I wil get it without divorce.???” Thanks for your time.


You need the civil divorce first then you can seek the Decree of Nullity


That question comes up a lot it seems, atleast in the US the Church wants you to have a divorce before going for an annullment. The reasoning to me seems, that if you feel the best place for the marriage is to seperate, then it would then be a good time to see if the marriage is valid or not. If your seperation is going to be dependant on if the marriage is annulled, then you should actually work on the marriage, til you fully discern that the general unpreferred option of seperating is in this case is not an acceptable option.


Yes, that is what I understand to be the norm here in the US. Most dioceses want the civil divorce to occur first, then they begin their case on nullity.


May I make a suggestion?

Find a meeting of Al-Anon and have your friend speak to someone there about her situation. While it still may be necessary for her to divorce, she should do it from a strong position - and the strongest could be a position of love. Al-Anon could help her with this - and help her from making a similar mistake in the future.


My friend lives in Peru by the way. And wants to marry a non-catholic man. Or date for that matter.


Plus she doesn’t have a pastor either.


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