Annulment Advice Needed


Hi, I am new to these forums and I am working on an annulment.
I am a divorced and remarried. I lagged beginning the process because I too worried about the validity of it all. Finally I talked about it to a priest in confession. I felt encouraged and through him found a parish priest who listened to my story and my new husband’s also. Now to write it.

Has anyone here ever been through the process? Any advice? I know they look for flaws in the relationship prior to the marriage and, I assume, for how they manifested themselves in the destruction of the marriage. After 20+ years of marriage, it seems a bit overwhelming to sift through it all and write a concise history and still tell them all they need to know.

Just looking for any tips anyone has.

Many, many thanks,




First, relax. It is not an adversarial process, or it shouldn’t be. It’s a weighing of statements, with witnesses to the statements corrborating the statements as facts. A determination is then made if the marriage was valid or invalid. The tribunal can also determine if there is something to be done before you attempt marriage again, such as some counseling. That tribunal passes it up to the Court of Second Instance, usually at the provincial level. They make sure there’s no “holes” in hte first tribunal’s ruling. And before you ask, your ex-spouse will be invited to participate. If he chooses not to do so, your mariage to him can still be decided as valid or invalid.

The best thing I did when going through mine was use what was then the “new” word processing program, Word, with an additional spell-check program. I then put away my writing for a day or two, came back to it, and generally remembered something I’d forgotten. I then let my advocate go over my answers.

Your questions are some of the most popular on CAF. If you do a search, you will find many, many, many threads on the subject.


I would recommend you get a copy of the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It explains things very well in an easy question and answer format. It’s a very good, basic book on the process and all the details.


Thank you both for the advice and tips. It is a bit scary, almost like going through the break-up all over again. Sure never want to do that again. Some say it is therapeutic and healing. Did you think that to be the case?


Hi Jeannie,

The process varies a little from diocese to diocese, but chicagoburbs gave a good summary. I’m waiting on the result of my second instance review right now.

Things that helped me most:

  • Commit yourself to total honesty throughout the process.

  • I started with a simple timeline in Word. I wrote down all the things I even remotely thought would be important and tried to put them in order so I could recall when each things happened. Don’t edit yourself too much at this point, think of it as a brainstorming session where anything goes.

  • After I had my timeline sort of straight in my head, I started the questions. I took them in small chunks…2 or 3 at a time max. Then I started to notice that I was very upset after each session of working on the questions.

  • Then I found the trick that is my best advice for anybody about annulments. I took my laptop (or could take pen a paper) right into the adoration chapel at church. I only worked on the questions there. It was amazing! I’d say a little prayer for honesty before working, work for an hour, then pray for help leaving all the upsetting stuff in God’s hands.

None of those upsetting things left that chapel with me. They have floated to the top slowly, as I’ve been ready to handle them, one at a time.

My divorce was rather recent, and my annulment advisor wanted to know how I was able to write my answers without bitterness. It was the Real Presence. There’s no other explanation, and I certainly couldn’t have done it on my own.

The waiting can be stressful, lean on God and your husband. God bless you! :slight_smile:


Therapeutic, healing- and I felt vindicated at the end, that I had answer that was not man-made, but God-made. I felt as if God knew what was going on, and had His hands on me the whole time. I was just too caught up in the sludge to see Him there.


It is amazing that when going through it all I really became stronger in my faith: more frequent weekday masses, rosaries and simply prayers in general. What I have found helps is confession. I had to go outside my then parish to find a confessor that I knew would truly give me answers from Heaven. I like the voice of reason, the patience in helping me find the answers that seem evasive. God sure gave the world a gift when he ordained priests.

I love your suggestion about writing in the Real Presence. I will do that as well as breaking it into small pieces. Sometimes I cannot think of anything at all and other times it floods my mind. But I know I will not be at peace until I finish this.

Just to let you know, I am in the Archdiocese of Washington.


I’m glad the fruits of the process have brought you closer to God. Me too, isn’t it amazing?!

About healing…when I was trying to write at home, the process was NOT healing for me. I would be in emotional turmoil for 2 or 3 days after each time I worked on the questions.

After I went to the chapel, that changed. I was not healing yet, but I was able to do the work without getting hurt.

Then I started seeing a Christian counselor. She was very curious about the Catholic nullity process. When I explained it to her, told her about the questionnaire, she said it sounded very healthy and similar to things she would have had me work on, but I had done them already!

So, in the end, I’d say it has been very healing. In the beginning, I had my moments of cursing the Church for putting me through cruel and unusual punishment. :wink:


I do believe God answers all prayers. Through all of this I felt so blind ( I guess that is the sludge) and yet people, especially my children, tell me they learn from my strength. None of it is me, it is all God. I prayed for help and friends and he led me here. I have much work to do but definitely feel better about starting.

My husband is an inspiration also. It has been difficult but we keep our marriage chaste so as to be able to recieve the sacraments. In that way, we have no one else that relates to us. I cannot see having one standard for myself and another for my children and besides, being outside the sacramental part of the church was more than I could bear. What is the old saying…it only takes one mortal sin…


The process was very difficult, because it involved digging up an awful lot of buried pain. I was only married for 2 months before I separated from him (we hadn’t lived together prior to marriage, either) and filed for divorce. The things that happened during those two months were awful to recount.

In the end, however, it was very healing, and it offered a kind of closure for me that I didn’t even know existed. My first marriage was invalid because of the diriment impediment of Ligamen (my ex’s first marriage was valid and he was not free to marry me), and I am absolutely free to remarry in the Catholic Church. My husband and I (we’ve been married for 14 years) will be convalidating our marriage after Easter vigil. :slight_smile:

My whole point is this… whatever grieves you, give it to God. You will be better for having gone through this process in the end. :slight_smile:


I think it is good to think about the problems that you had before you married and then consider the problems that you had that ended the marriage. I think that when you take a look at what constitututes a valid marriage, you can start to see how some of those elements being lacking from the start eventually caused the whole marriage to come apart.

I am a bit of a pack rat and I found a lot of old letters that were just loaded with big red flags. It’s helpful but not necessary if you have things like that.

Currently I am at the point where I have submitted all of my statements and all of my witnesses have turned their paperwork in. My ex has stated that he will not participate. So, I’ve been checking my mailbox almost daily to learn what the next step in the process is.


I can understand where, in some circumstances, going through the annulment process could be therapeutic and healing. Just going over the circumstances of a failed marriage, examining the mistakes that were made, and vowing not to repeat them could be beneficial to all concerned. In a situation like mine, however, where I have been divorced for 25 years, I have long since come to terms with my mistakes and my failed marriage. Both my former wife and I have LONG since moved on and are at peace. To dredge up the whole unpleasant situation is something I find to be most distasteful. Additionally, I find some of the questions to be extremely intrusive and inappropriate. Finally, I find it outrageous that I need to ask the Catholic Church to declare my other-than-Catholic marriage to be null. (End of rant. Sorry.)

Anyway…to address your question, I suppose the healing and therapeutic value to be found in the annulment process is very dependent upon the individual situation. Hopefully your situation is one that can benefit from the process. If not, you may have to do what I am going to do - grit your teeth, go through the motions, and hope it’s over quickly.


From what I hear, things *tend *to move fairly quickly in their Tribunal. Arlington (northern Virginia) is much slower – mine took three years.

Some say it is therapeutic and healing. Did you think that to be the case?

Put me in the “therapeutic and healing” camp. After a long marriage – over 30 years in my case – it is hard by yourself to see where the seeds of destruction were present from the very beginning. You get very wrapped up in how it ended, and the pain of that ending, that it is hard to look back – or even remember, for that matter – the courtship, first years of marriage, when children were born and small. Through the process, I learned a great deal about myself, and an understanding of my former spouse (enough to know that I should have RUN from the very beginning :o ) I did not find any of the questions particularly “extremely intrusive and inappropriate,” as did Rick43235. They addressed the reality of marriage and family, of expectations and experience. Any decent psychologist – or lawyer – would likely do the same.

If not, you may have to do what I am going to do - grit your teeth, go through the motions, and hope it’s over quickly.

I suppose, like most things in life, how much you get out of something depends upon the openness you bring to it.

But never, ever count on the annulment process being “over quickly.”


In my case, just getting to the gate has taken a long time and I have been in the thick of it. I can only imagine what the tribunal must incur since they can only read the story and then try to sift through it all.

Does anyone have any details on how witnesses are incorporated into the decision and just how vital it is to have them? Our priest told us that witnesses were not vital. I asked because I don’t know who I would request as a witness. I rarely spoke to people about the huge problems and tried to keep it away from the children. In time they came to figure it out on their own. Details such as that have kept me from trying sooner.


How about your parents or siblings? I know how you feel, because when I was dating and married to my ex, I always tried to portray him in the best possible light. It might surprise you though how many people were really able to see through the facade.


I do believe many people could see that there were problems. I just did not socialize very much so I cannot imagine they would have details. If it comes to it, I may have to try my family. There is a history of many many problems there too. It concerns me that they could even make things worse. Maybe not. My parents were never in favor of the marriage, in fact my dad did not attend. Trust me, it is a long story. They rarely even talk to me. But, I will try if necessary. Thanks for the suggestion.


If they were not in favor of you marrying, then definitely they would make good witnesses, even if it means a bit of I told you so. And your family would not make stuff worse. If anything they will provide the complete picture.


Ohhh, you want the tribunal to hear both what they had to say and to get a picture on the kind of family life example you had. What your friends did see is important too. You might not like it, but that kind of insight will be very beneficial to the people trying to get a feel on the principals in your particular case.

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