annulment, returning to the Church - spinoff

In reading some other threads here, and considering my own situation, I have a question about annulment, remarriage and returning to the Church.
From my understanding, there are some significant differences between divorce and annulment, and it’s certainly not guaranteed that if you ask for an annulment, you will receive it.
So, suppose someone is remarried, and for their marriage to be accepted in the Catholic Church, they need to have an annulment of a previous marriage. This person decides to go through the process, hoping to return to the Catholic faith, but the annulment is denied. What does that person then do? End their current marriage (even if it is a happy one and involves children?), give up on returning to the faith, hope that their ex-spouse proceeds them in death so that they can get the marriage blessed, remain chaste for life with their current spouse? What if the ex-spouse is already remarried, and/or neither the ex-spouse or the current spouse are Catholic?
I’m curious, because when I talk about having considered returning to the Catholic faith, people often say that all I need to do is get an annulment, as if by starting the process, it’s almost a given that it will be granted. I’m guessing, though, that most annulments would be denied, as the conditions would have to be pretty hard to meet. Anyone know what percentage of annulments are granted?

Annulments are not that hard to receive. I would suggest that you talk to a priest who is knowledgable in Church law regarding marriages. I received a declaration of invalidity - like an annulment. There are options out there for you!


Hi There!!!

An annulment is NOT a Catholic Divorce. To have a decree of nullity you must prove that there was a reason AT THE TIME OF THE MARRIAGE that the marriage is not valid. There are many things that can invalidate a marriage in the eyes of the Catholic church. The best person to ask would be your local priest.

As far as your question about what would happen if it were denied… here are your choices… you could not join the church, but this would be sad that you placed a person/event over God. You could join the Church if you were to live as brother and sister in the current marriage. As a Catholic, I have to believe that my salvation and that of my family is way more important than what feels good or is easy… Jesus never promised us easy. In fact, one of the purposes of marriage is to aid your spouse to salvation… how would living as man and wife in an adulterous relationship be helping that?

If you were Catholic, left and are trying to return… it is just a little bit different… you really need to speak to your priest.

Some reasons for annulments to be granted are:
spouses too closely related
defect of form… not being married in the Church (if you were Catholic at the time of the wedding)
fraud… one or both spouses not being who they claimed to be.
Mental defect… this covers alot… from mental illness to just plain old being too young and immature top understand marriage.
being drunk at the wedding
being forced or coerced to marry

these are just some of the reasons… again, you really need to check with a priest. Trust me, they have heard it all…my priest didn’t bat an eyelash at my story…

I would guess, from attending workshops on this topic and talking to people who have gone through the process, that the majority of those who go through the process are approved. This is because, when there is manifestly no real reason to suspect the marriage was invalid from the beginning, the petition is not accepted and the process isn’t even started.

For someone who finds himself in the situation where the former marriage is found to be valid, I would recommend coming back to the church, asking God for mercy, and following Christ in everything he can. If it isn’t possible to leave the second marriage without wronging the spouse and children, the person would not be able to receive Communion but should still attend mass and pray for graces. God knows we get ourselves into messy situations. At some point it may become possible to live chastely. We should have faith in God’s mercy and do the best we can.

I would suggest consulting a priest about the initiating the annulment process. It may be that, because of the messages society sends us, many marriages aren’t valid because the people don’t really intend to stay in them if they ‘fall out of love’ and for other reasons such as immaturity. At any rate, if you feel God is calling you back to the church, you should respond to His call. Follow Him as well as you can.

Yes, if a civilly remarried person petitions for a decree of nullity and the prior marriage is found to be valid, the options available to them include:

  • separate from current spouse
  • remain chaste but stay with spouse (usually when children are involved)
  • pursue convalidation after the first spouse dies

If a person chooses not to separate or remain chaste, then they have severed communion with the Catholic Church, cannot receive the Sacraments, and are putting their souls in jeopardy.

Another impediment to a valid sacramental marriage is disparity of cult. This means that your spouse was not a validly baptized Christian at the time of your attempted wedding.

In my case, I was a lapsed Catholic who married a Mormon (a non-Christian), so my annulment was granted on at least two bases: defect of form (a baptized Catholic married in a Mormon temple) and disparity of cult (attempted marriage with a non-Christian).

At least that’s my limited understanding of it.

God bless you on your journey,

There are two different annulment type documents, as I understand it. There is the classical annulment, which is an investigation into the validity of the marriage itself and there is a declaration of nulity due to another reason, such as the ones that Paul mentioned. THe first is a harder one to get, it requires proving that even though everything seemed correct, it was not. The second is for things like lack of canonical form. It is a yes or no type of deal.

You may fall into the second catagory and not know it. DO speak to someone who knows and you can see. If you were Catholic and married outside of the CHurch without the proper approvals, you should be able to cite lack of canonical form.

I know, this is what happened to me.

In my case, I was a Catholic married to a non-Catholic in the Catholic Church, then married my husband in an Episcopal Church, which is the Church I currently attend.

Well, all of us can speculate all we want, but each case is unique and you must start by talking with the pastor of your local Catholic parish. He can get you started.

Please let us know how it goes.

God love you,

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