Annulment help needed?


Here is the case. A friend of mine has been married to the same man for thirty seven years with 3 biological children and nine adopted children. When she married, she was told that they could not marry because her future husband had been married at age 21 to another Protestant by a minister even though she had not met him until after his divorce. There were no children involved.

They sought an annulment twice by the church at that time but were denied. She was not allowed to get married in the church or have it blessed.
This has really been a major burden for this family **and her immediate family. Does anyone know why an annulment is not allow if two baptised Protestants were married in a Protestant church?


Yes I can tell you why the decree of nullity was denied-- because the marriage was investigated and found to be VALID.

That means that NO ONE can dissolve it-- as Christ tells us. If the tribunal had found grounds for nullity, they would have declared the marriage null. Clearly, they examined the marriage and found it to be valid, hence their decision upholding the bond.

Your friend is committing adultery. I am sorry that it is a “huge burden” on the family-- but your friend **knew **that he was not free to marry and yet she married him civilly.

If they are willing to live as brother and sister, she may be able to return to the Sacraments. If she is not-- well, she remains in a gravely immoral situation. She should talk to her priest.


How does the marriage stay valid when his wife sort the divorce as she was dating someone, got pregnant and then married that man. Was he then suppose to stay single the rest of his life?


I suggest you obtain the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It explains what a decree of nullity is, and what it isn’t.

A marriage’s validity does not have anything to do with what happens during the marriage-- including infidelity. It has to do with whether or not the marriage was validly contracted when the vows were exchanged. If there is no impediment or defect in consent/intent, then the marriage is valid. Nothing that either spouse does subsequently impacts the validity and indissoluability of the marriage.

A Sacramental marriage, once validly entered into, is never dissoluable by any power on earth.



An annulment can only take place if it is determined that at the time of the wedding one or both of the spouses lacked some fundamental characteristic needed for a marriage to take place.

Future infidelity doesn’t mean that such a condition existed at the time of the wedding. And a lack of children doesn’t have any more bearing on the annulment process than the presence of them does.

It is a hard cross to bear, the betrayal by a spouse, but your friend’s husband wouldn’t have been a “single man” for the rest of his life- he would have been, and still is, married to his original, valid, and allegedly unfaithful, wife.



I just don’t get it. I often hear of a couples who will marry when they are in their late teens or early twenties and then separate and all I often hear on these forums that they should seek an annulment. Why is that OK?

When they sought an annulment in 1969, it was extremely rare. Very few got them.

He would have been single because she married that other man, had two children and stayed with him for about 15 years and then remarried again.


It is fine to seek a decree of nullity-- the marriage should be examined by the competent authority in the diocese. **Seeking **a decree of nullity does not mean one will be granted.

Divorce was extremely rare. Very few applied for a decree of nullity.

Valid grounds would result in a decree of nullity, whether in 1969, 1989, or 2009.

The tribunal reviewed the case and did not find grounds-- that is why the could not grant a decree of nullity.


The advice of people here is not Canon Law. Over and over people are told to seek the council of their priest, and for good reason. Just because group census on CAF is that an annulment should or shouldn’t be sought doesn’t mean that it will be granted.

I’m not sure about the rarity of annulments being important here. If they’ve tried twice, and been denied twice, then it’s a valid marriage, no matter when they sought it and how many were granted.

I can’t imagine the pain your friends are going through, and even knowing that your friend was told she wasn’t entering a valid marriage with this man doesn’t help. But the bottom line is that they were warned beforehand, and chose to go their own way.



originally posted by Feedmysheep
If they’ve tried twice, and been denied twice, then it’s a valid marriage, no matter when they sought it and how many were granted.

I am not sure if it would be considered twice as it was with different people around the same time but I know they did seek one.

It is so touchy that I hate to ask details.

originally posted by 1ke
Valid grounds would result in a decree of nullity, whether in 1969, 1989, or 2009.

Does it matter if they allowed say 25,000 in 1969 and 100,000 in 2009? Numbers I posted are not real but just wondering if the numbers of annulments went up, does it matter?

I just found this site and it said that in 1968 when she would have sort one there were only 338 annulments allowed.


No, it doesn’t.


“…any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than unfaithfulness commits adultry…” (Mt19:9).

I have a similar situation as described by the original poster. My hubby has been cheating on me for a while and I’m planning on moving on and marrying again. Will that still be considered adultry? What does the Church teach and it’s relation to the Scripture I quoted.:confused:


You would be committing adultery if you left your husband and got remarried without a Decree of Nullity. Just as he is committing adultery now by being unfaithful


I have no reason to think that you haven’t already, but I’ll state the obvious:

-have you two met with your priest?
-have you attended a Retrouville weekend together?
-have you attended some sort of marriage counciling?

What stands out most to me is your statement that you’re not only planning on moving out, but that you also plan on marrying again. While divorced individuals are still able to receive Eucharist, divorced and remarried individuals are not, unless they have been granted an anullment.

Planning on marrying again while still married sounds, at best, strange.


no one knows except the two parties to the original marriage, and those charged by the canon law tribunal with investigating the circumstances that pertained at the time of the original marriage, whether or not there was anything in the contract, consent, or ability to give consent which would render the marriage invalid. Their being protestant has nothing whatever to do with it, and who witnessed it where is also irrelevant. Any marriage between two protestants who are otherwise free to marry is considered valid until proven otherwise. Any other stance would result in chaos, which Catholics labeling all other unions outside our Church as adulterous. The burden was incurred by the individual who chose to attempt a second marriage while being already married validly to the first spouse. The burden was not imposed by the Church, but by the freewill choice of the individual.


the marriage does not “become invalid” because of the actions of one or both parties after marriage. Validity refers to circumstances at the time of the original contract, not to anything that happens subsequently. Civil divorce cannot end a valid marriage. Yes a person who marries validly and later leaves his spouse (or is abandoned) for whatever reason must remain single for the rest of their lives.

An annulment investigation is always a good possibility, because it may very well be that the same attitudes or conditions that were so destructive to their marriage, might have existed at the time of the contract, and so might affect validity, and it is always worth pursuing that possibility. But it is never a sure thing, and no one who has ever been married before should ever embark on a new romance without applying for a decree of nullity (there is no such thing as an annulment, actually) and getting a positive judgment first.


Did they go through the annulment process, or just ask the advice of two priests at the time? The answer to this question will make all the difference in the world. If he had not gone through the process, then one cannot say they were denied for the simple fact that they didn’t even apply (go through the process).


So what should people in this situation do? They were Protestants. They did not have the teaching of the Catholic Church. Even if the objective act was wrong, their culpability is not the same as if two Catholics were involved. This is what I understand the Church to teach about every other moral issue. Someone must KNOW they are committing mortal sin in order to be blameworthy.

I have great sympathy for people who messed up their lives during their Protestant years, then discover the Catholic Church and find themselves barred from the full sacramental life. I’m not doubting whatever the tribunal might say, but acknowledging the cross that these people have to bear.

BTW, does anyone know the texts which explain the validity of Protestant marriage? I’ve looked myself, and cannot find anything specific. Canon law seems only to mention the presence of impediments.


who is talking mortal sin? we cannot make a subjective judgment about the state of another person’s soul.

If they are protestant, why are you concerned? If they are seeking to become Catholic, yes, they must subject themselves to Catholic law on marriage.

this thread and any similar thread that seeks to discuss and solve the problem of an individual marriage situation is pointless. they will not get real help unless they see their priest. If they have already gone that route, and don’t want to accept the Church teaching, all we can do is pray for them, we are powerless to change the facts.

bottom line, OP and anyone here does not know the facts about this couple and their individual situation. If they (not OP or anyone else) wants to explore their situation, they (not OP or anyone else) needs to visit their priest, reveal all the facts, and take his advice.


Come on now - they were CHRISTIAN!!! At the very least they should have been taught the indisolubility of marriage - at least one would hope. Catholics don’t have a lock on this teaching of Christ. “What God has joined together…” is pretty clear cut, even if you aren’t Catholic. :rolleyes: No excuses. Sorry - it’s not like they were some non-Christian religion and didn’t have a clue, so I’m not buying it.

The Catholic Church is not doing this to these people - they made their choices on their own. If their Protestant pastor was not teaching them that marriage is forever, then shame on him/her. :mad:



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