Annulment with abusive ex


I have a bible study friend who is divorced from her husband. She has two children.

First, if she is not in a new relationship can she receive Eucharist?

Second, she is afraid for herself and her children and is basically in hiding from her husband. She is understandably concerned about the prospect of being required to contact him for the annulment process. Is it always necessary?


When I got my divorce, I was told so long as I didn’t remarry, I could receive Holy Communion.
The church says no no to divorce and remarriage without benefit of an annulment.


To answer your first question, if she is not in a state of mortal sin, she can receive the Eucharist. Even if she was in a new relationship, a dating relationship, she could receive, but if she was remarried she could not.

Secondly, she does not have to contact her husband, the church will do that for her, the tribunal, that is.

It is not like a divorce where the two parties have to seperate material goods or meet up in court.


Iam praying for this lady and her kids. she should cut off all contact with her husband. is she Catholic? she can contact a priest and explain the situation to him and ask him not to reveal the where abouts of her and her kids. and as far as I know, when receiving an annulment, the priest does not have to contact the former husband.

she should discuss this with the priest. my knowledge on this is somewhat limited, so i may be wrong. but regardless, ask her to get in touch with the priest and discuss things with him. have her lay out the importance of no contact with the man.

i do not know whether or not she can receive communion. that is up to the priest. but take one step at a time. the first thing to do is to contact the priest and go from there.


Been there, done that. First of all, she is putting the cart before the horse. She needs to get the annulment first and THEN start dating. Until you have that decree of nullity IN HAND, you must behave as a married woman. And that includes going out with other people. What is the purpose of dating? To meet someone and become close and maybe marriage? Too many people get into trouble because they find the date first, get engaged, and THEN look for the annulment. And if it is not granted, then where do they go?

Her paperwork will be separate from his. He will not even have to know her address. The diocese will send out inquiries to see if he even wants to participate. She won’t have to do it herself. She should be very firm in this with the diocesan tribunal. If she is living in a diocese different from the diocese in which the marriage took place, I would suggest she contact the diocese where the marriage took place and have them help her. That would help prevent her ex from knowing what town she lives in, and that diocese would have jurisdiction as well.

It should be noted that some abusers go whacko when their ex-spouse starts a relationship with someone else. She needs to be sure her ex has no lingering obsessions or she could end up with someone pulling an OJ on her and her new boyfriend. I’d be hesitant to drag someone I cared about into that situation. She needs to be sure he has moved on with his life before she waves the cape in front of the bull.

More importantly, as someone who has been down that path, I have seen many MANY women go from one abusive man to another. She needs to step back and answer the painful and long questions. And through her annulment petition, maybe some of her old choices will become clear to her so that she will NOT fall into the same trap or fall for the same kind of man again. The more time she spends alone after getting away from an abusive man, the healthier she will be when she does start dating. She needs to completely regain her sense of self and her own complete and healed identity before she even tries to find a man who would complement her. Because too many women are too wounded soon after an abusive marriage. And they find a man who will help “fix them” and he turns out to be another control freak looking for a “weak” or “timid” or “wounded” woman whom he thinks he can control.

Break the cycle. Put the kids first. Don’t date. Not this soon. And good luck to your friend. Life is better when you reclaim it from that living hell.


There seems to be some confusion here.

I’m Orthodox, not Catholic, and we differ on these matters, but I’ve been here long enough to be able to answer this :slight_smile: :

The fact that your friend is civilly divorced from her abusive husband has no bearing on her status in the Church, where she is still married until proven otherwise. If she’s not doing anything a married woman shouldn’t, and has no unconfessed (mortal :rolleyes: sorry, I’m Orthodox…) sins, she can receive the Eucharist.

It is clear from the OP that she is not seeing anyone, so there really shouldn’t be a problem. She does not need to have her marriage annulled if she has no intention of getting married.

Did I get it right? :slight_smile:


I’m sorry, but you are assuming the marriage is invalid, I think. If the marriage is valid, one cannot remarry, therefore one has no reason to date.

It is not like a divorce where the two parties have to seperate material goods or meet up in court.

Yes. It’s totally not like divorce. For example, it’s not actually an annulment. An annulment is when you nullify something. A valid marriage cannot be nullified. “Grounds for anulment,” means, “reasons to nullify marriage,” which can’t be done. It’s commonly seen as Catholic divorce, even among Catholics, but it’s not. It doesn’t change the objective reality. Someone either is married or not. The Tribunal proceeding finds it out and issues a declaration. It’s a normal sentence, a verdict, but the nature is declarative - it only declares how things are, it doesn’t change anything. The fact marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean it was null, so the marriage-failure-dating-“annulment”-marriage string is not right.


I guess that I have made that assumption. But I have also assumed that they have not persued an annulment. If they are divorced, she can still receive the Eucharist as long as there are no other mortal sins committed, being divorced does not bar her from Communion. Also, if she is persuing an annulment, there is no reason that she cannot date. Did I miss something?


Even if she is pursuing an annulment, that is not enough to date. What if it isn’t granted and she has already fallen in love with someone?

She is still presumed to be in a valid marriage until the investigation of the marriage is complete and the tribunal has decided and another tribunal has concurred that the marriage was invalid from the beginning.

If she is in the situation where it is so serious she must hide from her husband and the father of the children, she really is in no position to be opening herself up to other men in her life, and the vicissitudes of dating. Her children need her full-time attention at this point. What if she brings another man in who victimizes her again, or worse, an innocent child?

A friend would counsel her to fully recover from this dangerous situation before ever proceeding ahead.

And she needs to keep herself in the state of grace and the strength of all the sacraments to help her through this. But yes, she can and should receive the Eucharist as often as possible. It is what helped me through a very taxing divorce. I wish her luck for attaining the emotional and spiritual freedom that an annulment from a violent man can bring.


I was not saying that she was in a position to date, just that if she was, this would not put her in the state of mortal sin. It is not a sin to date.

Could it cause problems, sure. I am not disagreeing with you on that.


It is a sin to date if you are married already. She is married until she has a paper telling her she was never married to begin with.


Understood! :thumbsup:


Sorry to butt in here, but this is not entirely correct, she is not allowed to “date” Until she has applied for and received a decree of nullity, the decree proves she is not still ( actually never was) married within the eyes of God,Up and until that decree she is assumed still married and therefore cannot “date”

as far as contacting the ex goes you (person filing) does not have to contact, the tribunal will handle all that, Its a lengthy process, fill out paperwork, wait, then suddenly you recieve a letter stating they are sending out witness questionaires ( you will think dang I would have thought that part was already done) then you wait , and wait some more about the time you think they totally have forgotten about you ( 8 months after filing or so) you call them up and they say OH we just sent you a letter about it all lol next day letter in box telling you has or has not passed local tribunal and is headed to higher tribunal for accuracy AND
basically appeal, then a month later usually done you get paper saying you free like the birdies, or not…

BUT you do not have to contact the other yourself

Many Saints have been divorced, so dont see it as the end of the world.

Hope that helps , get the papers filed asap its a long drawn out process

good luck

p.s. for the record now that I have read a few other posts, she cannot “date” or pursue a courtship, or relationship of that nature till decree of nullity is granted and ratified, she is still married in the eyes of the church up until that decree is ratified. this is also emphasized on the paperwork she will be filling out as well…

The church also recognizes that Many “divorced persons” do not even seek a nullity decree until they have already entered into another relationship or plan to remarry, they will give you all the proper paperwork,instructions etc and what you can do IF you are in a relationship already.


Thank you everyone. No, I don’t think she has any intention to date. She knows that she would need the marriage nullified first and she is reluctant to pursue that actively because she fears her husband and doesn’t want to “relive” the abusive relationship by recounting it for the paperwork/tribunal etc.

I have let her know that after a good confession she can receive. She has not received in some time, assuming incorrectly that a divorced person could not.


Yes. If she’s pressing a nullity charge, it does not mean she’s automatically right about the nullity of her marriage. She’s to regard herself as a married person. Her marriage may prove null, but it may prove valid and up until the verdict (in case of a verdict in favour of nullity, the verdict must also be confirmed by a court of appeal, since pro-nullity verdicts are automatically appealed), the marriage benefits from the presumption of validity.

Compare with presumption of innocence: it allows the state to put someone in prison (detention) so he wouldn’t obstruct justice, but it doesn’t allow the state to start handing out punishment until the final verdict.

Cf. can 1060:

Can. 1060 Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in a case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven

This does not mean the person can’t challenge the validity of the marriage, but he or she shouldn’t be looking for replacement partners.

I can specify three reasons:

  1. Respect for marriage. It is altogether improper if the marriage is valid. Similarly, in a marriage presumed valid but being challenged, it is not right on principle.

  2. Should the marriage be upheld, the new attachment needs to be cut. This harms the person challenging marriage, it also harms the person who has to be dumped, the spouse in the upheld marriage, and the marriage itself. This should make any sensible person think twice and twice again and then twice again before doing anything like that.

  3. Acts which go against marriage (if not considered cheating than at least offending against marriage), should the marriage prove valid, will have gone against marriage. If we know that there’s a good reasonable chance we might be sinning, we shouldn’t be doing what we are contemplating. I believe the risk of material transgression against marriage is not ours to take.


Please. You cannot nullify marriage. You can nullify an administrative decree, erasing it from the records and pretending it has never existed. But you can’t nullify marriage. To nullify means to make null. Church tribunals don’t have the authority. The Pope doesn’t, either. They only have the authority to investigate and see whether the marriage is null or not. If a marriage is found null, it doesn’t mean it’s fine to stop it. It means it has never existed in the first place. Should a tribunal issue a nullity decree in error, it won’t make a valid marriage invalid by any means.

Can. 1141 A marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death.

Ratum et consummatum means validly concluded and consummated.


she is reluctant to pursue that actively because she fears her husband and doesn’t want to “relive” the abusive relationship by recounting it for the paperwork/tribunal etc.

Just my two cents here. If your friend is in hiding to a degree, I guess she has not been able to have her situation handled properly by the courts.

Let me just say that I was not treated fairly by the court system at all. It was only when I went to the priest and the deacon in my case that I was handled with any kind of courtesy, respect or dignity. And for the first time in years, people actually wanted to hear MY side of the story. That alone was very healing for me.

Answering all that stuff and recounting everything for the tribunal really helped me stop reliving it in my head. And it stopped some of the nightmares. Please urge your friend to do this. It’s like having a broken bone reset. It hurts at the time, but in the long run it is much better for the patient.


People are sometimes inclined to skip the Church tribunals because they consider fear the repetition of bad experiences from civil courts, and they consider them less important than the civil divorce proceeding, so they just give up. In reality, however, Church tribunal proceedings can often be faster and cheaper than civil ones.


Sorry for my brainless use of the word nullify. I did not inspect my words for proper usage. :shrug: I knew what I meant and just assumed you all would as well.

In spite of what it may seem, I am aware of the Church teachings. Sometimes people on this forum make mountains out of molehills when it comes to semantics.

Liberanosamalo, I will let her know what you said.

Thank you.


I cant say for sure on faster or cheaper, with mine it was both of those BUT the civil divorce would have been over in 6 months but My ex was trying for big bucks she didnt like what I offered her, when we left the courtroom the day we could have been divorced But she wanted more I told her that the offer I had given her was officially dead and she wouldnt get anything but what she already had, ( that court date was not in front of a Judge) when we got our court date I stood by my promise and won took 15 mins in the courtroom to prove my case,
so took a month over a year, anullment took just a week less
BUT once the paperwork was filed all I had to actually do was occasionally make a phone call to make sure they were still alive at the tribunal never had to appear for anything…

had chances to if i wanted to see paperwork decisions in full instead of in brief
like i cared rofl

anyways Its nothing to be scared of its just time consuming


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit