Annulment arrrgghh!


#1

Hello everyone,
I’m new here, and wish to say hi, and relate a problem that perhaps I can get some advice and prayers about.
7 years ago, I went through a divorce. My former spouse and I were both catholic, but young–19, and 20–and he was unfaithful from the beginning. There were also other extenuating circumstances that doomed our relationship from the very start. After the divorce was finalized, I waited a year to recover, catch my breath, and let go, and began to seek a declaration of nullity (it would certainly be a formal case). In fact, I turned in all the paperwork to my parish priest/advocate. Years went by…the priest gave every impression to me that my annulment had gone through…and being too busy with obtaining a degree in order to better provide for my child, I did not investigate. My advocate told me once my paperwork was given to him, my job was over. I thought it a cathartic experience and moved on with my life.
Feeling drawn East, I left the Roman Church I was going to and began to attend a Byzantine Catholic parish and now call it my home. This was a year and a half ago.
A few years ago, I met a wonderful man, we got engaged after 2 years, and planned to marry. I called the priest of my former church and asked for a letter, or document to show that my previous marriage had been declared null. He said to go ahead and call the tribunal and they would send a letter. To my chagrin…they had no record of me at the tribunal. I called the priest, who said “you all but disappeared, so the case has been in my file cabinet all this time. But I’ll turn it in now.” :banghead:
Well, I had not “disappeared.” I think I fell through the cracks.
So now I wait another year so I can go on with my life. All my paperwork has been turned into the tribunal…and so I have to sit and wait. The only problem is, my FH former spouse (their marriage declared null due to ligamen) has been harrassing us, stalking us, causing all sorts of problems, and trying through multiple court dates to take custody of their daughter from him. She is an abusive women, who actually physically battered him. We need to get married because we love each other, and want to build a good, Godly home for our children. We need to protect this little girl…and how can we if we do not have a family for her? While we sit and wait, this woman plots and schemes to destroy us, and rip the little girl away from a loving father and (hopefully someday) loving stepmother and a “big brother” (my son). And if anyone thinks that this woman couldn’t do that…she got away with spousal abuse, with harrassment and blackmail, she CAN, in this blindly pro-woman, liberal court system get custody…if she can tell convincing enough lies. And she can…oh yes. Advice? Prayers? Please…I’m very emotionally exhausted from all of this–from her terrorizing us, and from the Church which I know wants to protect us, but I feel like my feet are being held to the fire instead. I don’t want to lose my faith, but I’m so worn out. Please pray for me, for us…if nothing else.


#2

With all due respect, it is your responsibility to follow up and ensure everything is in order. This should also have been discovered when you formally transferred Rites. Or did you not go through the process to transfer to the Byzantine Rite?

A complex situation always arises when there are ex-spouses in the picture. If she is harrassing you, take out a restraining order.

Your friend, I hesitate to call him your FH since you do not have a decree of nullity, needs to handle his issues with his ex-spouse separately from you.

Your friend can “protect” his daughter on his own by going to court and obtaining custody. He does not need to be married to you do so.

I’m sorry, but you seem to be blaming the church because you did not follow up on your tribunal investigation and are not free to marry this man. Marrying him will not magically fix an obsessive, abusive ex-spouse. It will not “protect” the daughter.

Your friend needs to hire the best lawyer he can afford. You should back off and have as little contact with her as possible. Your friend should try to settle the custody issue before you two get married (if/when your decree of nullity comes through).

This is a life-long situation. It’s not going to magically get better if you marry this man. Just be aware of that. If it’s worn you out already, then maybe you need to re-evaluate the situation.

I hope that your friend is able to obtain custody and that you are granted your decree of nullity.


#3

I appreciate your answer, and I apologize if I misrepresented myself. I do take responsibility for my part in not following up re: the declaration of nullity. However, in my defense, my priest told me all was done, I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Perhaps I read too much into it when I thought he meant I did not need to follow up. And in my defense, when I asked a year later how the annulment (I use this word for the sake of brevity–I know Church cannot “nullify” a marriage, it can only declare it null) was going he said it had gone through.
I don’t blame the Church, at least not intellectually. When I am irritated, tired, or feeling under the weather, I may feel that way. But I recognize it for what it is and understand it is a passing feeling. When I say “I feel as if my feet are being held to the fire,” I mean just that–it is a feeling, nothing more.
I’m not emotionally drained because of all of the ex-spouse stuff. I could handle that garbage because we do have recourse. I am drained because of everything together. There are other things going on as well that have nothing to do with these two issues we are discussing.
As for the custody battle…he has done his very best in getting 50% custody. Where we live, it is very rare to have shared custody, usually the mother is given full custody in nearly every case, even if the man fights to have shared custody. It’s a tragedy…but so is divorce. And neither one of us wanted divorce.
And yes…I’m old enough, smart enough to know that ex-spouses can make things very complex.
Re: transferring rites. I was not aware of the necessity to do so until only recently. I suppose I don’t ask enough questions. Again, my fault, I suppose.
I am prepared to handle whatever his ex-spouse is throwing at us, I know she can’t do it forever. I was not prepared for this. Again, I should have followed up. But again, someone should have been a little more honest about what the process entails. When I gave him my paperwork years ago, it was in good faith. I was not even thinking about dating. If I had known that I had to constantly be on someone to make them do their job, I would have been on the person. I was all too trusting, and younger than I am now.
I don’t mean to make this into a priest bashing or church bashing or tribunal bashing or anything. I know there are wonderful priests (more wonderful priests than not wonderful priests), I know the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the faith, and I know the tribunal is doing what it can (I know this because I call every week to check on the status of my case).
I guess, to boil it down, I posted on the wrong sub-forum. I should have posted on “prayer requests,” because prayer is all that can be done at this point. Because I am very much standing in need of a prayer.


#4

Oops…when I said “I call every week to check on the status of my case” I meant to say “every OTHER week.” Calling every week would be harrassment…


#5

I would take this to my confessor but here is what I am thinking:

You are trying to establish some sort of legal standing with civil authorities. In much the same way as the Holy Mother Church acknowledges that a civil divorce may be necessary to protect a spouse, children or assets - but expects both parties to behave as the married couple that they are in terms of chastity and obedience to Church Teachings - would it be in the best interest of the child for the two of you to marry civilly while waiting for your decree of nullity?
Of course, the first problem I see would be the presumption that you would receive the decree…
I don’t know…this is a tough one…what does your priest say?


#6

LSK’s solution crossed my mind, too – get married, live as brother and sister, consummate after the Church calls it marriage. But now I am thinking its not so good. Its an awful lot to go through to rescue your FH, and it sounds a bit co-dependant to me. Not a good way to start your marriage.

Plus, what if its decided you can’t marry? There are children involved. Better not to jump the gun.

The wait is unfortunate. That is, the one caused by the delay in the annulment. Which, as you explained, it seems the bulk of the blame goes to the priest. Mistakes happen with people, right? Its unfortunate for you, and unfortunate that also your life at that time was understandably full, so you weren’t sitting around thinking that you’d recheck the exact status of your annullment, just in case the priest’s word wasn’t enough.

But thats a lot of coincidences. I tend to believe in God-incidences - particularly when they pile up like this. It seems like God is putting roadblocks in your life! It really does. Maybe he wants you to wait. It seems truly the wisest thing to do.

True love waits.

Here are some other thoughts that occured to me when I read what you wrote. They are red flags.

First you picked wrong for the first husband. Often women pick wrong for the second, too. A deciever the first time, then the second, and the third. I have talked to several women who married narcissists (they lie and manipulate) and then turned around and unknowingly married another. Narcissists are very common, and also highly disfunctional. I married one. They are seemingly normal, only, when you meet them -* better* than normal, and so charming, and trhey know how to hook you emotionally.

They, like other bad guys, are in a hurry to get commitment from you and in a hurry for you to tie the knot. It is not uncommon for them to create a crisis situation, a reason you have to marry right away. If there is no crisis, then, its because they love you SO MUCH and can’t live another day without you!

But true love waits.

Also, although there ARE woman abusers, they are *extremely *uncommon.

What is VERY common is for the abusor to say that he is NOT an abusor, but his wife is. That is par for the course with abusors! Also, abusors like to get custody of their children - not because they want to be the parent but because its another way to continue the abuse of their ex - because they are addicted to abusing her, and because nothing will hurt her so much as wresting her child from her.

If you haven’t met and talked to this woman yourself, and if your FH discourages that, or paints such a SCAREY picture of her that you are afraid to, then I say: this is a red flag!

Also, he will save a bundle in child support if he gets the child.

I know the idea of your love being such a monster is highly unlikely to you. I never would have believed it of my husband when he courted me.

But if he really loves you, he can wait for these roadblocks - which God has allowed in your life - to be removed. You are not responsible for his custody case, as another poster here told you. Its a red flag that you feel responsibile, a red flag that either you are co-dependant or that he is dragging you into his business, manipulating you into feeling responsible for it.

By waiting and watching what happens with the court case, you many learn some things. Leave the outcome in God’s hands, and of course, assist your FH with your prayers. Its the best thing you can give him! Anything else pales in comparison. I hope he is wise and godly and knows that.

I am just a person who read what you posted on the computer. But a wise man seeks the counsel of many. I strongly suggest taking you case before a wise counselor of some kind. Someone who will hear the whole thing, your plans, and the resons for them. And advise you on the wise course of action. If your FH is above-board, he will be willing to let a wise perosn in on your circle.

I also suggest meeting FH’s ex for lunch so you can make your own evaluation. She may have some things to tell you that make you really think. Then again, she may confirm everything your FH has told you, and that will be good to know. And it makes sense to get to know the mother of your future stepdaughter.

And 50-50 splititng the childs life is not such a great thing for a child. Do you want your life sliced in half? Its better the child have a main home, and visits and access to the other parent, as is appropirate to their particular relationship.



#7

Everyone who has reviewed my case, even my current priest, says it is very straight forward, an almost “guarantee.” Multiple issues that I will not go into here because it would take too long (I know it appears the I like to ramble on and on, I really don’t, hehe). Suffice to say, these are issues that even the most conservative tribunals would state are serious impediments.
We have considered a civil ceremony for the sake of the children, with a church convalidation later on. I hate to do that, I don’t want to appear as if I’m trying to get around something. But we, and the children need the legal protection the marriage imparts.
A little back history that I see I did not elaborate on in my previous posts: he and his ex-spouse have been divorced for years. They did not have actual proceedings, but opted for a “civil dissolution.” In it, out of the “kindness of her heart,” she granted him 50% (shared) legal and physical custody. There have been recent court dates with her trying to take sole custody, all sorts of witnesses being brought, thousands of dollars spent, harrassment of us, false allegations by her of sexual molestation of the daughter. Horrible. Anyhow, he is struggling to maintain what he has against a court system that treats the criminals as victims and victims as criminals. He’s even paying her high child support because she refuses to work (she used to be a law enforcement officer, which is both scary and also curious that now she refuses to work to take care of her child)–and allow me to restate that they have 50/50 custody! Because marriage (for the time being anyhow) still enjoys the favor of the law, the court is less likely to spilt up a “family.” It’s not the only reason to get married–we were going to do that anyway until I found out that I still had no annulment. And we still plan to do it, independent of whatever problems there are. Even if they disappeared today, we would still get married (actually, that would make it easier).
Anyway, I can get off on rants here, but yes, I will take this to my priest, all my angst. When I say I am feeling as if I am losing my faith, I’m being honest. I don’t want to be judged for that, I want to be prayed for. I keep saying “I believe, help my unbelief,” because I’m there, at that point where I need His strength, badly. The onus is on me to be stoic, but in secret all of this (including such issues as not listed here) is bugging me.
Well, I’m not going to make any decisions now. I’ll talk to my confessor and try to hash things out. Thanks for your reply.


#8

I don’t believe female abusers are rare–in my line of work I see a HUGE number of them…they just are less likely to do something obvious like male abusers are.
As for FH–he is not dragging me into this. Ex-spouse is. I’ve met her, and she is very DEFINITELY an unstable, scary person. I felt very uncomfortable around her–no, that is an understatement. I was glad other people were present. I see with my own two eyes–4 YEARS of evidence mounting that she is indeed the abuser. 4 years of terrorizing us. 4 years of trying to ruin my career, 4 years of harrassment. Need I say more? When she is personally threatening me, I can see that she is the attacker. My friend, it is just about time for a restraining order, and I am not kidding. I’m serious about this. But I won’t let her break up something good. I’m not a naive young girl–I took it slow with this man because I was gun shy and wanting to be super careful, I have son to be concerned about. He, likewise, was careful, in that he has a daughter.
With all due respect, ma’am, I think implying that he is just wanting to reduce his child support payment is unfair. In the marriage, he was the one that stayed home with the child while ex-spouse was persuing her “dream job” of becoming a law enforcement officer. He fed the girl, bathed her, made home made baby food and used cloth diapers (waaaay better than I did as a stay at home mom during my former marriage). I see the interactions of this father and daughter first hand. I can tell you most assuredly that this little girl will grow up knowing what a man is supposed to be, what a father is like, and have a pretty good image of Our Father in heaven.
50/50 custody is the best thing we can do. The best home for this girl would be fully with her father. But the courts won’t allow that where we live. And he will not throw her into the lion’s den where her mother lives with 3 different men by giving her full custody. Yes, in this case, it is better to have her life “split,” so that she can have consistent exposure to what is normal and healthy–rather than grow up in a home learning loose morals and other horrible things. Her next cute little trick that she’s started is to accuse me of physically abusing the little girl.
I hope I’ve a explained a little further this whole issue, to let you know that this is not some co-dependent relationship with a narcissist (actually, that’s what was going on in his marriage to her–her being the narcissist).
He is willing to wait, I’m the irritated one. He has told me before he is willing. Trust me on that. I feel like my life is in a holding pattern, and nobody with any clout is trying to help me out here.
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m angry, or disrespectful of you in anyway. In the course of my ramblings, I sometimes do not fully explain things. And it is good that people ask the questions, that I can let them know a little more about the story. It’s just such a long story, that I leave important details out from time to time. Such as the detail of not HIM dragging me into this, but HER. Let there be no misconception about that.
Pray for me, please. Most importantly, pray for her, that her tortured mind, her mental illness would be healed (did I mention she has been diagnosed? Another important detail).


#9

Wow. Sorry to have made you explain so much. The red flags are falling as you explain more. In fact when you wrote in the 4:16 post that she is a female police officer, it occured that if she were a female abusor that would be an attractive profession for her in that if she wanted a profession that made her feel bigger and tougher, that would do. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

Yes, there are many female abusors, just relatively much fewer. I remember getting training when teaching and being shocked that mothers abuse their children sexually. But, they were abused as children, and they carry it on.

If she is accusing him of what she does, and then she accuses of molestation thats frightening.

Well then you have met, and I believe you. Yes, a restraining order sounds like a plan.

I was only telling you that this can be the cause. I cetanly have never met him; you are the one who knows him.

From what you say here, he was an unusually good Dad. Gee, homemade baby food and cloth diapers! Wow!

Yes, i can see how 50/50 is the best you can do.

And I agree, refusing to work but having time for a series of boyfriends is really suspect as far as priorities.

I also realize you cant put all the details here (no time) but you do’t have to. I see your point. Its tough. I will pray for you. Trust God!



#10

It’s okay to have me elaborate more. It’s hard to describe things online. If people need more information to form an opinion, well, I can give them information.
Yes, all I can do is trust God. I think being so worried over the past year, I was not hearing the voice of God. But you know how He speaks in your heart and you just know that it’s Him? He told me during Divine Liturgy He would protect us like the 3 youths in the furnace, and the flames wouldn’t touch us. I’m not a visionary type, I don’t dream dreams or anything like that. I’m pretty concrete. But He can make Himself very obvious in that silent way in your heart, the way He does.
I called the tribunal later on today, and they told me the long part is over. So I know God is good, I just get fed up sometimes. I suppose we all do. He’ll tell me what to do–through a confessor, likely as not.
Thank you for your prayers. I appreciate that. Just knowing you are praying makes me feel strong.
One of these days, I’m going to write a book about this whole thing with the ex spouse,and make a million dollars off the royalties. :rolleyes:


#11

As they say…truth is stranger than fiction;)

Anna x


#12

That is so inspiring. I believe it!

Yes He is! This is great news!

I’ve thought the same thing sometimes.


#13

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.