My ex husband of about 10 years is a repeat registered sex offender who’s youngest victim is under the age of 13. He was and still is emotionally abusive and has remaried too. We divorced and I’d like to get an annulment, but as I understand it may not be possible. How can it be right that I’m supposed to just be alone for the rest of my life? I have only my kids here too. No other family and I can’t leave because of court custody orders. It doesn’t seem like God would want this. How can this be right? I just don’t see how this is what God meant when he said he didn’t like divorce. I don’t see how he meant that I have to either subject my kids and myself to his abuse and be in danger or else I have to be lonely and struggle for the rest of my life.
Talk with your priest.
It sounds like you really need to talk to your priest. He will be able to help you access diocesan resources, as well as knowing a lot about community help. Same thing with the parish staff – a lot of times, the Parish Secretary knows everybody and everything!
The most important issue would seem to be getting a new custody ruling, because a sex offender who hurts kids is not supposed to be around any kids. Solve that first.
Next, you obviously need friends. Get to know other moms. You will not feel so lonely.
After all that, if you have time and energy, maybe start worrying about an annulment. (Okay, you probably want to start the process as soon as you can, just to get it off your plate, but you don’t need to hold your breath.) And then start worrying about dating, when you know what is what.
Honestly, you have a lot on your plate, and you were already with an abusive nogoodnik once. So having time to clear your head and see how normal couples work would probably be a good idea.
I mean, you don’t want to panic and pick the first guy who comes along, right? Especially since you have kids, you will have to be picky and take your time. So since things are so busy anyway, take that time as a gift.
(And if you get an annulment and are able to move home, you would not want to be stringing along some poor guy, right? Better to wait until things are settled.)
That said, and obviously I am not a canon lawyer, I seriously doubt that you would be unable to get a marriage annulment. A guy who molests kids/girls probably did not enter marriage in good faith, or believing that there was nothing wrong with him. Also he is likely to have pulled other hinky things, which all might affect validity of his consent or yours. Talking to a canon lawyer as well as a priest is what you should do about it, because even your priest may not know all the annulment stuff.
I’m not sure who told you what, but all Catholics have a right to petition for a determination of freedom to marry if they believe they have grounds for a decree of nullity.
Make an appointment with your priest to discuss the situation.
Thanks. i divorced 10 years ago and have been in custody battles. they ruled that he can be around his own kids, just not other peoples without supervision, which they deemed his new wife to be adequate. It’s crazy. Anyway, I can’t leave. i do have annulment paoers and have talked to a priest. From what I have gathered though it’s only going to happen if they deemed the marriage invalid from the beginning.
I’m really sorry this has happened to you. As others have said. You should definitely pursue an anullment until you find out that you can’t get one.
I came to say something else though. I think it’s sometimes hard for us to accept how much other people’s sins can affect us. Your situation probably feels really unfair. But that’s because it is unfair. But it isn’t God or the rules of the church who have been unfair to you. It’s your ex-husband.
Sometimes people do things to us that will affect us for the rest of our lives. But I find comfort in rebelling against their affect. By trying to be as happy as I can regardless. It would be a shame if you were to also lose your faith over this.
I hope you take the advice here and talk to your priest or parish advocate. Please try not to compare your experience with others or take their well meaning advice to heart.
Oh and you’re not alone–you have your kids, you have us and most importantly, God.
Please come back and let us know what you find out about petitioning and don’t let the process daunt you–it’s a very fulfilling one!
I am sorry that this has happened to you and you are in this situation. No, you are not supposed to be alone forever. You are never alone. God loves you immensely and is watching you every single moment. Not a single hair falls from your head without his permission. As others have suggested please speak to your parish priest, make that first step. Stay clean and let your husband do whatever he wants to do, however, you need to remove yourself from this toxic situation. Please speak to the priest, our minds can be so muddled up with what we think would be right when it actually wrong and not what God wants. Please remember, you have a responsibility to look after yourself for your wellbeing and for the wellbeing of your children. Being “lonely” is far better than being in an emotionally abusive relationship with your husband. I will keep you in my prayers.
Well yes. That’s what an annulment is.
Perhaps the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster would be helpful to you. It’s available on Amazon.
An annulment is just that, a determination that a valid marriage never took place. If it were me, I would submit the petition to get a ruling one way or the other. With that you will have much more clarity to plan the rest of your life.
Obviously every one is different but if my spouse turned out to be this type of monster. The last thing I’d ever do is want to find another person. I’d be perfectly happy living to see my kids grow up and I’d probably be sexually dead for the rest of my life.
That said, I’d seek an annulment ASAP!
Google your town + your state and get the name of your Diocese. They have a webpage and look for the Tribunal on that page. Call the Tribunal and someone will help you start the process to review your marriage for validity.
I was for a long time. I was angry at the whole world and felt like I had failed my children. I wanted to die. I was even angry at God. Eventually I realized I was becoming someone I didn’t like and was not fully being the mother my kids needed. They didn’t need two screwed up parents. I went to counceling and met someone who asked me to go back to church. I slowly forgave and let go of most of the anger. I do believe there are things we should be angry about, but you can’t live in anger and fear and not everyone is a predator. I don’t want a partner just for sex, in fact that’s the least of my reasons. I want someone to share life with and be intimate emotionally. I never really had that with my ex. I want it. I want to have someone especially after my kids are grown. I’m not 18 anymore and not as blind and immature as I once was.
Rose Sweet has been on Catholic Answers Live many times. This is her ministry:
It has many resources for you.
I have the papers and have written my responses. I have to get my witnesses info and type it out and pay the fee. I just heard a priest talking about it on Catholic radio yesterday and what he said made me so sad and hopeless about my future and the odds of getting an annulment. I freaked out a bit and have been pretty upset. I think I just need to do it despite how grim he made the prospect sound. Thank you.
Talk to your Advocate if the fee is a problem, they will make arrangements with you or even waive it entirely.
Being alone isn’t so bad
Our society does have a tendency to act like if you’re not in a romantic relationship you have no relationships worth anything in your life.
Never compare your “story” to anyone else. The priest you heard on the radio doesn’t know your story, and for his audience, he has to speak in generalities. The only way you are going to know is to submit your paperwork and get the process started. There have even been cases where the parish priest tells someone they don’t have a case, but the tribunal says they do. So, begin the process and try not to stress out until you get an answer.
I think you should separate some issues here.
- You need to pursue an annulment. This should probably be done regardless of future intentions. You married a child sex offender. Civil divorce is not only permitted here but probably encouraged by the Church. Annulment is a different issue but it should be explored and finished.
- This idea of being alone is concerning. You have kids and yet somehow the courts have seen fit to restrict you in some regards in visitation. There is no way we can know the entirety of the reality of the situation. But you are not alone. You have kids. And they will be there in the future, you can have amazing and deep friendships as well. Being “alone” is not something that is unholy or that God would not want. In fact many many people are alone and in perfect harmony with God’s will for their lives.
- Just from a practical standpoint, a woman who has an ex husband who is a child sex offender and is continuing to abuse, AND you stated he is still emotionally abusive should not really be thinking of any other relationships at all. There are things that need to be fixed in the here and now. Priorities above someone to grow old with. Statistically alone should be enough of a red flag that you should not seek out anything that might endanger you or your kids.
- Putting this on the Church or God as His will is unfair and unrealistic. You married this man. You created life with him. Then, HE chose to break God’s will and that affects others. His victims, his children, you… Sometimes that cannot be fixed and one must live with the wounds others have given them.
5 Focusing on the “aloneness” as not being God’s will or right is completely missing the point altogether. God’s will is not to have people abused or sin. You need to focus on your kids. You need to focus on safety for you and them.
- Lastly, just as there are evil people who do what your husband did, there are evil people who see this as an easy manipulation to hurt you or your kids. You are damaged. Severely. That is not a mean thing to recognize, it is the truth. Be just as aware of anyone else as you would be getting back together with your husband.
Remember, although many “alone” people can and do remarry, it is not necessarily an imperative. Many widows or products of divorce are alone by choice. And many other single people are always “alone” sexually. You really wan’t to know what God’s will is? It is in the productive and Holy lives of you and your children. In all this tragedy and hurt. Your kids came out of it. Focus on that as God’s will.