Hypothetical question for any that might know that answer. Non-catholic man marries non-catholic woman in state of WV. They later divorce. Non-catholic man moves to South Carolina and marries a 2nd time to a different woman. Man & woman discover the Catholic Church. Man files for annulment in SC since he lives in that state. Here’s the question:If the request for nullity of the man’s 1st marriage is denied in South Carolina, can he file a new request in WV?
Yes in general but with some qualifications or twists that have to do with jurisdiction and definitive sentence.
Competence in a matrimonial case is regulated according to canon 1673. The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (WVa) would be competent under normal circumstances as the tribunal of the place in which the marriage was celebrated (c. 1673, 1º ).
However, to say the request was denied could mean one of several things. It could mean (a) that the libellus or petition was rejected and that the request did not lead to trial and definitive sentence; (b) that the case was abated by the judge or an operation of law, or © that a negative sentence was issued at the conclusion of trial.
(A) If the libellus has been rejected by the tribunal of the Diocese of Charleston (SC), it could be corrected and placed before the tribunal of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (WVa). Until a libellus is accepted and the parties cited, the case does not become proper to a a tribunal.
(B) If the case had been abated in the Diocese of Charleston (SC), it could be re-introduced by a new libellus with the same ground before the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (WVa). This is true since abatement extinguishes the judicial acts of the case including those which establish competence.
© If the tribunal of the Diocese of Charleston issued a negative sentence, the case could be re-presented under a different ground of nullity to any tribunal which would possess competence according to one of the reasons in canon 1673. However, the same ground can only be tried in second instance. It could not be brought before a different tribunal.
Thus, case © presents the first twist. Although the man could present a new petition to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (WVa), it would have to be based on a different ground that was rejected by definitive sentence in the Diocese of Charleston (SC).
Here is a second twist to consider. The respondent woman in the first case could have appealed a negative sentence. At that point the appellate court assumes jurisdiction and tries the case in second instance. On that basis the case becomes proper to the appellate tribunal, and the man cannot place a petition as you describe above.
Here is a third twist to consider. If the first wife for some reason had begun a case for nullity before any competent tribunal, the principle of prevention would operate and prevent the man from placing a request before another tribunal. Canon 1415 states, “By reason of prevention, if two or several tribunals are equally competent, the tribunal which has first legitimately cited the respondent has the right to judge the case.” So, say she moved to Northern Kentucky, perhaps in the Diocese of Covington. Under canon 1673, 3º, this would be competent as the tribunal of the place in which she, now the petitioner, has a domicile, and the judicial vicar of the domicile of the man, now the respondent, agrees, after hearing him. In that case, the man could not then go to present a petitioner before another tribunal.
(Deacon) John M. Cameron, J.C.L.