Annulment Question


#1

During a conversation with my cousin, a Catholic with protestant leanings, she told me that the other thing she has against the CC is that her annulment was denied wayyy back in the 70’s because her X spouse wouldn’t agree to it. She was ranting somewhat when she made this statement over the phone so she may have said this out of anger.:shrug:

So, now I’m curious to know. Can an annulment be stopped if one party does not agree with getting an annulment?
Does anyone know where I can find that answer in Cannon Law ?

Thanks


#2

[quote="horselvr, post:1, topic:294990"]
During a conversation with my cousin, a Catholic with protestant leanings, she told me that the other thing she has against the CC is that her annulment was denied wayyy back in the 70's because her X spouse wouldn't agree to it. She was ranting somewhat when she made this statement over the phone so she may have said this out of anger.:shrug:

So, now I'm curious to know. Can an annulment be stopped if one party does not agree with getting an annulment?
Does anyone know where I can find that answer in Cannon Law ?

Thanks

[/quote]

I think your cousin (in the most charitable representation) was either misinformed or 'thought' she understood what was told, but really did not.

A decree of nullity (the correct term for an annulment) cannot be stopped by the spouse refusing to agree to it. Perhaps she thought that his refusal to participate in giving his side would 'stop' the tribunal from assessing the state of the marriage --but that is not the case.

A decree of nullity can only be pursued once the parties have been civilly divorced. So. . .exactly what could her ex spouse "refuse' to do? If he refused to participate in the process, then her story (and her witnesses' stories) would not be 'contradicted' by his. So his 'refusal' to participate meant NOTHING. It would have no 'negative' effect on her pursuit--if anything it might have a positive effect as he would not be 'disputing' her testimony.

IF the process went so far that her petition was REFUSED, and he had 'refused to participate', then HE had nothing at all to do with the refusal, and his REFUSAL had nothing to do with the refusal. The Church found, on examination of the matter, that both parties had fully and freely consented to marriage with an understanding of what was involved, AT THE TIME OF THE MARRIAGE, and therefore the marriage was valid. NOTHING to do with him 'refusing' to participate. Unfortunately even decades later I am sure her bitterness makes it difficult for her to actually go back and 'recheck' things. It sounds to me as if she is a person who does not like to be wrong (well, that includes most of us!) and who has come to terms with what she feels is injustice by demonizing the Church. Only when she is capable of the kind of impartiality of considering she might not have actually understood things correctly will she be able to get through the walls she has erected in order to cope with her anger.


#3

You may also want to ask if she actually filed. She may have even been under the misunderstanding that she needed his permission to file. This kind of misunderstanding has been known to happen.


#4

Thank you Tantum ergo and Joan:

I really appreciate the replies from both. If she was confused about the proceedings or just being resentful---I don't know. I sometimes think the annulment process is confusing to some but the answers are there.

However the question has been answered and I thank you both.
Peace.


#5

[quote="horselvr, post:1, topic:294990"]
So, now I'm curious to know. Can an annulment be stopped if one party does not agree with getting an annulment?

[/quote]

This used to be the case (in practice) until the rule changed in the early 1970's.


#6

Just Lurking:

Thank you so much for your input on this as this is what my cousin said too. Do you have any docs or can you direct me to where I can read up on degree of nullity prior to the 70's. I am very curious as to when and why the change. I would really like to find answers for her. Thanks


#7

Here is an article that discusses the changes, which were a significant cause of the massive increase in the number of annulments as compared to before then. Footnote 3 has some details of the timeline:
See "Provisional Norms for Marriage Annulment Cases in [the] United States," 28 April 1970, Canon Law Digest VII 950-966. The "American Procedural Norms" had been drafted by the Canon Law Society of America in the mid to late 1960s and proposed for Roman approval by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops shortly thereafter. Absent Roman authorization, the APN would have remained speculative exercises by academics; but after Roman approval, they became binding law in U.S. tribunals. Afterward, if an American tribunal judge, fearful that these new procedural norms would threaten the stability of marriage, had refused to accept a petition correctly filed under the APN, canon law itself would have threatened him with sanctions up to and including removal from office. See 1917 CIC 1625 1 and 1983 CIC 1457. Many of the more "liberalizing" provisions of the APN were later made applicable throughout the Roman Catholic world as part of Pope Paul VI's apostolic letter Causas matrimoniales, 28 March 1971, Canon Law Digest VII 969-974, AAS 63-441.


#8

Just Lurking:

It looks like I'll be up late again ;) Thanks so much


#9

[quote="horselvr, post:1, topic:294990"]
So, now I'm curious to know. Can an annulment be stopped if one party does not agree with getting an annulment?
Does anyone know where I can find that answer in Cannon Law ?

[/quote]

No. A marriage is either valid or invalid... whether or not one of the parties wants to contest the annulment proceedings is only going to effect the evidence, but not the reality. He may have contested her evidence and the board found that a valid marriage did, indeed, occur.

I'm fairly certain in these cases that what we're seeing is what created the Anglican church, just one a personal level... the church didn't bow to the will of the individual, so the individual gets what they want by leaving the church.


#10

[quote="Just_Lurking, post:5, topic:294990"]
This used to be the case (in practice) until the rule changed in the early 1970's.

[/quote]

Let's put a little more detail around this statement. I think what you're saying is that priests would be more likely to refuse to file a petition for nullity, back then, if only one spouse was interested in the divorce & annulment. If the other spouse was not -- that is, if the priest thought that there was the potential for the marriage to be saved -- he might choose not to entertain the request to proceed with a nullity case.

It seems that what you're not saying is that the normative practice in the early 1970s was that both parties had to want the annulment in order for the tribunal to accept a petition of nullity for consideration.

Am I correct, Lurking?


#11

Dear horselvr,

[quote="horselvr, post:1, topic:294990"]
During a conversation with my cousin, a Catholic with protestant leanings, she told me that the other thing she has against the CC is that her annulment was denied wayyy back in the 70's because her X spouse wouldn't agree to it. She was ranting somewhat when she made this statement over the phone so she may have said this out of anger.:shrug:

So, now I'm curious to know. Can an annulment be stopped if one party does not agree with getting an annulment?
Does anyone know where I can find that answer in Cannon Law ?

Thanks

[/quote]

From what I understand, an annulment CAN be stopped if one party does not agree with the annulment. In other words, an annulment requires that both parties agree, because at least one of the issues is willful consent at the time of marriage. The state of mind of the parties at the time of marriage must be determined and the partner's testimony plays an important role in that determination. If one party says "there was no true marriage," but the other party says "yes there was a true marriage"... well, you can see how that could stop an annulment process. One of the reasons for the requirement of civil divorce has to do with that mutual agreement.

This is different from when one of the spouses REFUSES to participate. There is a time limit for the response to the queries of the tribunal, and if the time limit expires, the one who refuses to participate I think gives implied consent and the annulment can go through.

According to your post, the spouse not only refused to participate, but explicitly "would not agree to it." Of course, if a civil divorce already occurred, the party who did not agree to the annulment would likely throw his/her own motivations into serious doubt before the tribunal.

Blessings,
Marduk


#12

[quote="mardukm, post:11, topic:294990"]
From what I understand, an annulment CAN be stopped if one party does not agree with the annulment.

[/quote]

This is not accurate.

In other words, an annulment requires that both parties agree, because at least one of the issues is willful consent at the time of marriage.

Of course, a defect of consent may well be what the petitioner is alleging!

The state of mind of the parties at the time of marriage must be determined and the partner's testimony plays an important role in that determination. If one party says "there was no true marriage," but the other party says "yes there was a true marriage"... well, you can see how that could stop an annulment process.

No, this does not 'stop an annulment process.' In this case, they would provide their proofs for their assertions, and the judge will reach a decision on the merits of their proofs.


#13

[quote="Gorgias, post:10, topic:294990"]
Am I correct, Lurking?

[/quote]

No, but good guess. Here is the situation in more detail:

Say Alice and Bob get married and then get divorced. Let's say that Alice did not give proper consent, and that she has uncontestable proof of this fact. Thus, the marriage was/is null. Today, Alice can file for an annulment based on her defective consent. However, prior to the American Procedural Norms of the 1970's, Alice was not allowed to file for annulment on this basis. Instead, she would have to convince Bob, as the "innocent" party, to petition for the annulment. If Bob did not want the annulment, he could block it by refusing to be the petitioner.


#14

[quote="Just_Lurking, post:13, topic:294990"]
No, but good guess. Here is the situation in more detail:

Say Alice and Bob get married and then get divorced. Let's say that Alice did not give proper consent, and that she has uncontestable proof of this fact. Thus, the marriage was/is null. Today, Alice can file for an annulment based on her defective consent. However, prior to the American Procedural Norms of the 1970's, Alice was not allowed to file for annulment on this basis. Instead, she would have to convince Bob, as the "innocent" party, to petition for the annulment. If Bob did not want the annulment, he could block it by refusing to be the petitioner.

[/quote]

Aah. Got it. OK, but that's a different story: it's not that "back then, both parties had to want to get the annulment", but rather, "only the 'innocent' party could file for the annulment." In your example, if Bob were the one who wanted the annulment and Alice did not, then she would have no standing to attempt to 'block' the annulment. So, it's not the case that both parties had to be in favor of the annulment in order for it to proceed. ;)

(And, of course, in your example, it's not the case that Alice can't proceed, but rather, that she can't proceed on those grounds. Her advocate, then, might attempt to determine whether there are any other reasonable grounds (that is, grounds with respect to which Alice is the innocent party), and then file on those grounds.)


#15

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:2, topic:294990"]
I think your cousin (in the most charitable representation) was either misinformed or 'thought' she understood what was told, but really did not.

A decree of nullity (the correct term for an annulment) cannot be stopped by the spouse refusing to agree to it. Perhaps she thought that his refusal to participate in giving his side would 'stop' the tribunal from assessing the state of the marriage --but that is not the case.

A decree of nullity can only be pursued once the parties have been civilly divorced. So. . .exactly what could her ex spouse "refuse' to do? If he refused to participate in the process, then her story (and her witnesses' stories) would not be 'contradicted' by his. So his 'refusal' to participate meant NOTHING. It would have no 'negative' effect on her pursuit--if anything it might have a positive effect as he would not be 'disputing' her testimony.

IF the process went so far that her petition was REFUSED, and he had 'refused to participate', then HE had nothing at all to do with the refusal, and his REFUSAL had nothing to do with the refusal. The Church found, on examination of the matter, that both parties had fully and freely consented to marriage with an understanding of what was involved, AT THE TIME OF THE MARRIAGE, and therefore the marriage was valid. NOTHING to do with him 'refusing' to participate. Unfortunately even decades later I am sure her bitterness makes it difficult for her to actually go back and 'recheck' things. It sounds to me as if she is a person who does not like to be wrong (well, that includes most of us!) and who has come to terms with what she feels is injustice by demonizing the Church. Only when she is capable of the kind of impartiality of considering she might not have actually understood things correctly will she be able to get through the walls she has erected in order to cope with her anger.

[/quote]

Fantastic answer and great insight! :thumbsup:


#16

[quote="Gorgias, post:14, topic:294990"]
Aah. Got it. OK, but that's a different story: it's not that "back then, both parties had to want to get the annulment", but rather, "only the 'innocent' party could file for the annulment." In your example, if Bob were the one who wanted the annulment and Alice did not, then she would have no standing to attempt to 'block' the annulment. So, it's not the case that both parties had to be in favor of the annulment in order for it to proceed. ;)

(And, of course, in your example, it's not the case that Alice can't proceed, but rather, that she can't proceed on those grounds. Her advocate, then, might attempt to determine whether there are any other reasonable grounds (that is, grounds with respect to which Alice is the innocent party), and then file on those grounds.)

[/quote]

Exactly. That's why I said "in practice". The "innocent" party needs to file, and it's often the case that the "guilty" party is the only one with the evidence, so most of the time it turned out that both sides had to be in agreement about wanting an annulment.


#17

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