Annulment Help / Services


#1

I’ve very recently been granted a civil divorce. I’ve posted before about the state of my marriage so I won’t go into the gory details. So I’ll just say I’m sad & quite devastated, but confident that the divorce was really the only option left to me and my children.

I am not 100% sure that the Tribunal will agree with my arguments for annullment and if that is the case then I am prepared to remain married in the Church forever. I do not intend of dating/remarry, however, I do expect that my ex-husband will soon. I would like to pursue the annulment for the benefit of his soul & peace in my heart. Who knows what plans God has for my future?

My question centers around the use of an “outside” source to help me prepare the annulment forms, etc. for the Tribunal. I am so emotionally wiped out by the betrayal of the last few years that the thought of entering another lengthly and emotional “process” is difficult for me. My Parish Priest is ill and there isn’t anyone on staff to help with the process. Basically, all the office could do was hand me the initial information forms.

I searched online and found a website called “Catholic Annulment Preparation Services Divorce and Remarriage in the Catholic Church” http://www.churchannulment.com/preparation_annulment.html
Their website claims that the members are “Sisters and Priests, active and former church judges with decades of Catholic annulment experience …”

Has anyone ever heard of this organization or known anyone to use the help/guidance of another such organization? I want to be sure that my grounds are evaluated on their merits, not on simply using correct wording to meet the Tribunal’s criteria , etc.

Some insight please.


#2

When you start the nullity process you will have an advocate who will work with you. That is part of what you are paying for in your diocesan fees. Do not pay $185 an hour to these people.

This “service” cannot do the process for you. You cannot just hand over the forms and get them back filled out. You may be feeling drained right now, so maybe you want to wait a few months before starting the process. You are going to have to be involved in the process.

You have to fill out all the paperwork, you have to tell your story in your own words. Your advocate will help you by discussing grounds for nullity, and will help you with the paperwork.

While they aren’t doing anything illegal, I really question the integrity of a “service” that wants you to pay $185 an hour for assistance with the nullity process. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

Talk to your diocese first.


#3

I agree with 1ke.

And just want to add that the annulment process is really nothing like the divorce process. It is not draining in the same way. There is a peace that comes through participating in the process that you really shouldn’t assign away to someone else.


#4

I agree with the previous posters. I read through the info on that website and had an uneasy feeling. It’s expensive and reminded me a little of those companies that promise to repair your credit.

God bless you as you go through the process.


#5

My advice is this call the diocese and ask for help, typically the diocese trains the marriage ministries so someone with training from a neighboring parish often can help you. If your diocese office is close they may have you come to them for this help. Later the advocate will be assigned.


#6

I don’t know what such a service would do. I have been going through the annulment process over the past two years or so (it is not a hasty process at all, especially if a psychological assessment is done, as was in my case. My ex sounds very much like yours, so there was a call for it).

During the annulment process, you meet with a member of the Tribunal personally, and are interviewed one-on-one. It is a very gentle process because they understand how painful this is. Tears are expected, and there is no judgement during the interview. They ask you to think back to any behaviors that might indicate that your spouse may not have been capable of marriage in the Catholic sense. I remember your story and it sounds like there were impediments from the start.

I can’t see how hiring such a service as the one you found over the Internet can assist you with any of this because it has to be personal and one-on-one. It isn’t easy but if you want to move on in life, I would say it needs to done.

I am still waiting to hear about a final decision in my case, and have just recently reviewed the file before it was sent off to the Defender of the Bond. My ex was pegged with narcissistic traits, which was a relief to hear, because so often charming guys like him can fool so many people, including their spouses. Which he did; he fooled everyone, friends and family alike. My Tribunal rep hinted strongly that I will likely get an annulment, based on what our witnesses had to say and especially what my ex revealed about himself in the interview.

I would suggest you skip this online expensive service, grit your teeth and go meet with the Tribunal. After all you have been through, you’re still standing, and with a lot of prayer, you can also get through this too. You have already been through the worst, . Lastly, it beats having the “What Went Wrong” questions percolating in your head for the rest of your life. The annulment will hopefully provide some answers and clarity after these nightmarish years we go through. My prayers are with you.


#7

Thank you all so much for the information and kindness.

For whatever reason I also feel that there is something not quite ok with paying for (for lack of a better term) “insider information!”

I get the distinct feeling that shortcuts at this point in the game would not be in my best interest. I will save my $ and do the research necessary re how my Diocese handles annullment cases. I am in SC and Catholics are such a minority that Priests are often spread very thin.

Many of you stated that the anullment process is “healing.” If that’s the case, I guess I will do what I have always done… meet it head on and trudge through what must be done.

Thanks for the understanding and encouragement. I’ll keep you up to date.


#8

I am still waiting to hear about a final decision in my case, … My ex was pegged with narcissistic traits, which was a relief to hear, because so often charming guys like him can fool so many people, including their spouses. Which he did; he fooled everyone, friends and family alike. My Tribunal rep hinted strongly that I will likely get an annulment, based on what our witnesses had to say and especially what my ex revealed about himself in the interview.

Ailina- Bless you for your helpful response! I hope that your final decision will come soon and in favor of you beginning a new life.

Did the Tribunal require your ex to get a psychological eval? Can they DO that? I don’t see my ex agreeing to this in my lifetime. He won’t go to a counselor or MD as it is. I’m unsure what a psychological evaluation of my spouse might reveal. No way he’d reveal how he manipulates everyone via his charm and false modesty/regret.

Witnesses? How many witnesses? Now I am worried. There is not a soul I know of who would ever believe the emotional cruelty and indifference he perfected over time. He has made sure that the people that “matter to him” believe I was deceitful, cruel and ungrateful. How do some men DO that? It’s mostly my fault I guess. I made excuses…covered up his thoughtlessness… agreed with everyone who said he was a “great guy!”, trusted him when I obviously shouldn’t have.

I am so glad that you are on the road to freedom and true independence from your ex. I will pray for you!


#9

Hi BMB,

The link below should give you the info you need if you are in South Carolina. Notice the Getting Started and Forms sections when you scroll to the bottom of the page.

catholic-doc.org/

As for witnesses, how about your parents or siblings, or friends you had prior to getting married? If you have gone through counseling as a result of all of this, your counselor can be a witness too.


#10

In my diocese, the psychological assessment is routinely done on long-term marriages (15 years or more) or if one of the spouses is behaving oddly. The psychological assessment is done based on the interviews and any evidence you send in such as the detailed write up of the marriage where he might have said or done something that didn’t jive with the Catholic idea of what marriage entailed, or any documents that might back up your statements of mental abuse or cruelty.

My case was complicated and spilled over into the civil court area because my ex tried to block me from submitting evidence of his conduct; the case court judge ruled that he had to come in for an Tribunal interview if he wanted his evidence (porn pics of himself and others, etc.) back. He could have left that evidence locked up permanently in the lawyers offices, since they have cupboards overflowing with that kind of thing. He came in for his interview, and fooled the Tribunal with his crocodile tears. I was devastated when my Tribunal rep reproached me for cutting off contact with him and setting up healthy boundaries for myself. Fortunately, the psychologist read his interview and noticed how much he was blaming me for his issues, for everything. Some other horrible things also went on after my marriage broke up, and I kept submitting to the Tribunal because it really showed his sick and twisted frame of mind.

My witnesses (mostly my family and one couple we were mutual friends with) never saw that black side of him either, and pretty much said so during their interviews. They did say they noticed he wasn’t around much and not helpful when he was around, which were indications of his self-centeredness. Did your husband go to the army doctors/staff for any help at all? Did you contact them with your concerns? Anything related to that can be used as evidence. The fact that he kept coming and going must have been witnessed by those close to you?

It is not an easy process, and I really wish we didn’t have to go through this extra hoop when our Catholic marriages fail. I told my Tribunal rep that I thought it added to the pain of divorce, especially these days when so many spouses just walk away without a care or penalty, and that it doesn’t really change what happened. But in the end, I hope it is healing.


#11

You might want to check with your Tribunal because I think in most instances witness testimony is handled through the mail. Neither I nor my ex personally talked to anyone on the Tribunal or their staff. All correspondence was in writing. There was no interaction between my ex and I other than his drama after a prohibition on remarriage without first receiving counseling. 99% will probably find the annulment process to be more drama free than the divorce process.


#12

Is that correct that you had no personal contact with anyone while undergoing the annulment process? Wow, that seems so impersonal and rubber-stampish somehow. I live in a city of one million people, about half of whom are considered Catholic. There are three people working as Canon Law Tribunal reps here. Perhaps my city is considered small by American standards, but it is pretty big for Canada. Even my witnesses who live in a different city were personally interviewed.

It’s an eye opener to see how things are different from city to city, and even country to country, considering the same faith that binds us all.


#13

escapeabuse.com/npd.pdf

Ailina and BMB, I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s online.

It really shows how they make the world think they are wonderful.

But the world does catch on. You’d be surprised how many people in their offices and workplaces know what they are really like. But you wouldn’t know that because your NPD spouse moves heaven and earth to keep you from ever having anything to do with “those other people.” He lives in two worlds or three or four worlds and none of them interact. I read this book after I went through the annulment process and I was shocked at how my description of my marriage and his behavior was almost word for word some of the stuff in this book.

I only had to meet with a very kind deacon for the initial interview and giving the papers I was to fill out. I’d see him at Mass and he’d update me on the progress of things. He was one of the first people who treated me with dignity in the whole process of the breakdown of the marriage and the divorce. In that sense it was the beginning of finally having someone believe me and care what my side of the story was.

I wrote my answers to the questions on my computer on a Word document. 123 single spaced pages. They said the more info I gave the better. Sometimes I’d do it at 2 in the morning with a glass of wine and a box of tissues. Finally someone cared to hear the truth. It was very cathartic. And as I wrote out the answers, pieces of the puzzle fell together. Realizations came. It WAS healing. I was able to put it in a folder with “evidence, prescriptions for meds, photos, and other stuff” and hand it over. It was like a burden was finally off my shoulder. It cut in half the time I’d spend going over and over stuff in my head reliving things and thinking about stuff that happened and questioning things I said and did and things he said and did. It was like taking out the garbage.

My ex did not even choose to cooperate. Didn’t bother. (They probably figure out narcissists can’t be bothered most of the time. Or if they do, they are the victim in their own marriage and everything they say is the mirror opposite of what really happened.)

We had been to marriage counselors, so I sent them the addresses of those. They contacted them for info. That held things up because one counselor wasn’t too quick about answering. I’d suggest you find relatives who knew you at the time of your wedding, friends who may not have liked him from the early years, your parents, siblings, anyone you have who has knowlege of him. You’d be surprised what some people saw and said nothing about. Any old letters you have or old emails might help. It’s painful to rehash things, but you’re going to rehash and revisit things many times in the coming years as you deal with this. At least this time it will count for something.

Only after my marriage was over did people start coming forward with stories about him.

Good luck. Prepare for many lightbulb moments where you realize Oh, my goodness! It was really all right in front of you when you were getting married. You just didn’t see it clearly then. But most tribunals are more than familiar with the different specimens who contribute to family breakdown. There’s nothing original about the NPD, or the guy who decides he is gay after all, or the serial cheat who was having an affair with the bridesmaid the night before the wedding, or the alcoholic who was drunk at his own wedding, or the woman who never intended to have children and lied about BC pills from the beginning. It’s all the same old same old. Like priests in the confessional. They’ve heard it all.


#14

Thanks for the link, L. I’ll check it out.


#15

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.