Annulment of a Jewish Marriage


A Catholic friend of mine is dating a Jewish woman who was married in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony.

What are some of the grounds for annulment of this woman’s wedding as my Catholic friend would like to be free to marry her.


The grounds for a decree of nullity are the same for everyone.

The woman should discuss her situation with the priest or deacon, or representative of the tribunal. They will then determine if she has a case. These types of questions cannot be answered here-- the specific evidence of the case must be presented to the tribunal to investigate.

If the woman has converted to Catholicism, then she may be able to go through a different process that the Church has regarding an unbaptized person who becomes baptized and wishes to marry in the faith. The good and natural marriage can be dissolved in favor of the faith.

If you want more information and explanation of all the various grounds for nullity, I suggest you get the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster.


Is either of them seeking a decree of nullity through his dicoese tribunal? Then, it’s handled as everyone else’s is handled.

Is she instead seeking a Jewish decree, known as a get? Then, she needs to go to an orthodox board of rabbis and see what the requirements are. Don’t be surprised if the orthodox rabbis aren’t too crazy about the idea of her marrying a goy.


And, let me add that her reception of a Jewish divorce (get) has no impact on her ability to marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church.

The prior marriage would have to be examined by the tribunal.


Exactly. The OP has me totally confused.


From what I understand about annulments, some are easier to get than others. For example, as I understand it, it is fairly easy to annul a civil marriage conducted at a Justice of Peace (especially if you are drunk and in Vegas during the ceremony).

At the other extreme, it would seem very difficult to annul a Catholic marriage of two practicing Catholics who attended all the pre-Cana activities and who were very active in their faith at the time of the marriage (for example, perhaps they were attending daily Mass, weekly Eucharistic adoration, monthly confessions, etc.).

So the question here is:

What does the Church have to say in general about annulling an Orthodox Jewish wedding that ended in a civil divorce? Does the Church recognize this as a wedding that God was ‘approving’ of? How hard in general is it to annul something like this and what would one have to prove to do so?


This is inaccurate. Only Catholics are bound by the Catholic form of marriage.

If non-Catholic Christians marry in a religious or civil ceremony their marriage is valid and sacramental. Such a marriage would have to have a tribunal investigation to determine if there are any grounds for nullity.

By the same token, two non-baptized persons (or one baptized non-Catholic and one unbaptized person) who contract a religious or civil marriage have a good and natural marriage and it is a valid marriage. This marriage would also have to be examined to determine if there was any grounds for nullity.

The marriage may very well be a valid marriage and no grounds for nullity found.

The impairment of being drunk is not related to who performs the marriage (JP). Drunkness at the time the vows are exchanged may be grounds that nullify the consent. An impaired person cannot give consent.

Again, this is over simplistic. There could have been an impediment of some kind in this case too.

The marriage is a VALID marriage. For a decree of nullity, there would have to be proof of a canonical impediment. The woman could present such proof, if it exists, to the Tribunal to consider.

This isn’t a question that can be answered here. Each case is unique.

As I stated previously, they would have to demonstrate that an impediment existed at the time the vows were exchanged.

They need to talk to a canon lawyer.


Thanks for the response … I can see how a non-Catholic could think this is all a bunch of a horse hockey.


The fact that the Chruch recognizes valid marriages as permanent and indissoluable is “horse hockey”? The Church takes seriously it’s responsibility to uphold valid marriages and help those who are in an invalid marriage.

I am unsure where this misinformation has come from-- and why people think that the Cathoilc Church does not recognize non-Catholic marriages as valid. Of course they do! Marriage was instituted by God at the beginning of Creation.

Again, I highly recommend anyone unfamiliar with the process for examining a marriage for validity get a copy of the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster.


Thanks … but how could a drunken marriage in Vegas qualify as a valid marriage ?


I never said such a marriage was a valid marriage.

What I said was, a marriage in Vegas is not presumed to be invalid just because it was in Vegas. Many people marry validly in the city of Las Vegas.

If, after investigation, it is determined that there was an impediment– such as drunkenness at the wedding on the part of the bride or groom or both-- then yes, the Tribunal would find that consent was impaired.

As I said in the previous post: Drunkness at the time the vows are exchanged may be grounds that nullify the consent. An impaired person cannot give consent.


thanks … so strictly civil marriages are assumed to be valid also then ?




A Jewish orthodox wedding is valid both from a Jewish religious point of you and is also recognized as a marriage from a civil point of view. A Jewish couple wishing to divorce outside of Israel would seemingly require both a Jewish divorce “get” as well as recognition of the divorce by the civil authorities. At any extent the couple requires either a religious Jewish divorce or a religious and civil divorce. A “Catholic annulment” would logically have no effect as to the termination of the marriage.


The question was regarding what would be necessary for her to marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church, not what is necessary for her to be considered divorced within Judaism.

To marry a Catholic, the prior bond would need to be examined through the Tribunal process. Also of relevance is whether or not she is converting to Catholicism and receiving baptism.


My point was that she would be divorced. To the best of my knowledge Catholics do not believe in divorce ergo she would still be married. Being married she could not marry anyone else. The only alternative is that the Catholic church does not recognize the marriages of anyone not married in the Catholic church. However if that is the case here presumably there would also be no need for an annulment.

Am I missing something here or is an “annulment” merely a euphemism for recognizing divorce in Catholicism?


This is correct. Her marriage would be presumed valid. The marriage could be investigated by the Catholic Church for validity.

No. This is not the only alternative. The Catholic Church presumes all marriages are valid. However, a marriage may-- upon investigation-- be shown to have not been valid. This would be true if there were an impediment or a defect in consent or intent.

No, a decree of nullity is not a divorce.

Two baptized persons who marry validly contract a marriage which is indissoluable. It is also a Sacrament by virtue of their baptism. A marriage can be investigated, and if it is found to have a defect at the time the vows were exchanged (a defect of consent or intent or an impediment of church or divine law) then their marriage would be declared null. It was never valid.

A simple example of this would be the groom showing up at the wedding drunk-- consent is impaired. Another example would be if the couple were forced into a “shotgun wedding” by parents-- consent is not freely given. Those are just two example.

When two persons who are unbaptized are married, their marriage is a good and natural marriage. It is not a sacrament. And, it is considered dissolvable under Church law-- in favor of the faith. Meaning if an unbaptized person converts and is baptized, they may have their marriage dissolved “in favor of the faith”. Meaning, they are not bound to the unbaptized spouse. This is under only specific circumstances outlined in Church Law.

Since you don’t have a backgroun in Catholicism, this may be more than you wanted to know… but bottom line a decree of nullity is not a divorce, and all marriages are presumed valid unless proven otherwise.


Thank you for your detailed answer

From a legal and from a logical point of view a defect in consent at the times vows were exchanged, such as intoxication or coercion, would seemingly be grounds for annulment only if the person immediately applied for annulment once the impediment was removed. Continuing to live on as man and wife for years after the removal of the impediment to consent would indicate retroactive consent and ratification of the act. The use of an annulment in this situation means not that the vows could be found to be invalid but that the vows were always invalid and meaningless and no marriage status was created. This means that at no time was the couple married and any children the couple had were born out of wedlock. This is indeed a pandora’s box. The party who became intoxicated before the vows did so by free will. Granting an annulment in these situations allows for manipulation for easily ending a marriage of years by either one or both of the parties.It also raises the question of the reasoning behind the prohibition of divorce by Catholics.

Now in as much as the Catholic church would not recognize the “sanctity” of a marriage between a Catholic and non Catholic (or non Christian) the logic is clear.

In as much as two non Catholics (non Christians) may have their marriage annuled from a Catholic point of view
( lets leave aside lack of jurisdiction and legal effect of the Catholic annulment) that argues against recognizing the validity of the marriage or at the very least makes such recognition conditional. This once again raises the reasoning behind the Catholic prohibition on divorce.

Finally there is the annulment granted to a person wishing to join the Catholic faith. Given the countless examples of the Catholic church and Catholic adherents justifying committing acts that would otherwise be deemed immoral under the guise of salvation of another, this is also understandable from a Catholic point of view.


Well, I am sure my explanation fell woefully short of adequate. There are entire books written on the concept and the canon law. People go to special training to be canon lawyers and on the tribunal that investigates marriage petitions.

There’s a very good book by Michael Smith Foster called Annulment: The Wedding That Was which I do recommend.

Regarding the drunken groom-- yes, there are definitely situations where the couple themselves can correct the defect of consent and those are outlined in Canon Law.

There are also times when the defect is not corrected-- merely continuing in the marriage is not in itself sufficient to correct the defect. There are a *million *variations, and that is why each case is unique and evaluated carefully on its merits.

Any children born of a putative marriage (a marriage considered valid and later found to be invalid) are legitimate. There is no implication or ramification for the children of such a marriage.

While we have focused here on the marriages that are declared null, the tribunal often finds that a marriage is valid-- in fact, many cases never go to the tribunal because when the couple draws up their paperwork their advocate advises them they do not have a case.

In the case of the Jewish woman, she may very well be found to have a valid marriage with no defects of consent or intent. If that is the case, she cannot marry the Catholic. The only exception, as I have pointed out, is if she in fact converts and petitions to have her valid marriage bond dissolved. That is not the same as it being declared null. This is only done “in favor of the faith” and within the specific criteria outlined in Canon Law (i.e, it doesn’t apply wholesale to everyone).


Now here is where I’m confused. If a marriage is annuled due to defect than the marriage never was in effect with all the ramifications. However, if annulment merely puts an end to the marriage state which is viewed to have been in effect until the anulment- then all your doing is euphemistically calling divorce “annulment” and it is therefore incorrect for Catholics to assert that they do not allow divorce. Seemingly the book should be called “the wedding that wasn’t” not “the wedding that was

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