A friend who had a brief youthful marriage that ended in divorce more than 40 years ago would like to get an annulment. Since it was so long ago, she has no idea where her ex-husband is. How would you recommend she begin the process? I suggested she speak with a priest, but is there any place she can get information about what she will have to do before she does that?
She should speak to a priest. As with any annulment case, details matter (baptismal status of the spouses, whether the marriage had proper from, etc.). There are circumstances where even if the prior spouse cannot be located she could be declared free to marry.
Absolutely talk to the priest. But she can check her diocese website to see if they list general information. There are also lots of books about understanding annulments. The sooner she talks to the priest the better, sometimes they can take a long time.
When she files for the process, they’ll ask her for the current contact information for her parents and her former spouse’s parents as well. Her former in-laws might be able to provide that information.
She might also ask the priest if there is a protocol to proceed when they absolutely cannot find the former spouse. I do know that if her ex-husband refuses to participate, they can continue without him, but as a rule he does need to be contacted and informed of his rights.
If an annulment is actually needed, and the former spouse can’t be found, that’s going to be a problem. However, not all cases are going to need to an annulment, which is why it is necessary to speak to a priest, or other appropriate Church official. I can foresee situations where if any of the parties are unbaptized, they are dealing with a lack of form case, or an impediment to the prior marriage existed and can be proven, it may possible to proceed with without knowing where the former spouse is. However, it can matters complex, which is why we really can’t answer the question without knowing every single relevant detail.
You are mistaken. It will add a few months to the process, because the tribunal must make every attempt to locate the former spouse. However, if these efforts are unsuccessful, the case then continues through the process. This happens quite frequently, and tribunals are quite accustomed to it.
It will add a few months to the process, because the tribunal must make every attempt to locate the former spouse. However, if these efforts are unsuccessful, the case then continues through the process. This happens quite frequently, and tribunals are quite accustomed to it.
I’ll repeat: Details matter.
If certain essential details are missing, then the Tribunal can’t proceed in the first place.
When I worked for a tribunal, between a quarter and a third of all incoming petitioners did not know the whereabouts of the spouse respondent. (Granted, this was pre-internet.) Among those who did know where to locate the respondent, half stated that they did not expect that the respondent would cooperate, and that was generally the case, with a handful of exceptions.
So long as the petitioner could provide the necessary documents to initiate the case:
*]petitioner’s baptismal certificate (or confirmation certificate for converts who had been baptized in another denomination), to establish that he or she was a Catholic
*]civil marriage certificate, to establish that the putative marriage had taken place legally
*]church marriage certificate, to establish that proper Catholic form had been followed
*]civil divorce certificate, to establish that the putative marriage was no longer in effect legally
[/LIST]The case was accepted and initiated. Absentee respondents delayed, but did not prevent, the case from moving toward completion. Every good faith effort was made to locate the spouse–the tribunal contracted a private detective agency to assist in locating respondents, and they pulled public records, etc. When located, letters were sent via certified mail; some were signed for, while others came back unclaimed. In either case, the case proceeded.
Occasionally, statements made by the petitioner during the documentary phase were such that additional efforts were made during the deliberation process to get the respondent to reply–even if with only a single letter, rather than all of the forms–though the tribunal never revealed specifics of what the petitioner had stated. Most of these efforts were also unsuccessful, and the tribunal considered the unresponsiveness or inability to locate as a lack of evidence to the contrary. Eventually the case was completed, with only testimony from the petitioner and his or her witnesses. This was fairly common, and it resembled the efforts made to locate respondents in civil courts.
The OP provide no real relevant details. We cannot make assumptions that all required information for a short-lived marriage 40 years ago exists or can be obtained, or if applicable the additional additional information for a marital dissolution exist. While the ex-spouse doesn’t necessarily have to be contacted or participate (mine didn’t), certain documentation/information is still required. Hence the reason to contact the pastor or other appropriate person to sort this out.
It is certainly an extreme probability in the post-WII world that civil and ecclesiastical records concerning baptism, marriage and divorce can be obtained in almost all cases in this country. No one disputed that the OP needs to speak with the pastor; that fact was brought up several times. It is your assertion that “If an annulment is actually needed, and the former spouse can’t be found, that’s going to be a problem” that I was challenging.
This is an international forum. There was no reference in the OP to what country the marriage took place, whether the spouses were from the same country, whether they got married in the country they resided, etc.
It is your assertion that “If an annulment is actually needed, and the former spouse can’t be found, that’s going to be a problem” that I was challenging.
Your challenge assumes that all necessary paperwork required for a particular case is available, and that is something that should not be automatically assumed. The only thing that is automatic is that the marriage is presumed valid.