Annulments here, annulments there

They’re annulling everywhere! :rolleyes: Ok, I am married and do not want an annulment, by any means. However I was looking up some information for somebody else and saw some of the possible “grounds” for getting one. I realized that* I *probably have grounds for an annulment! And I tend to think that given how broadly one can interpret something like “fully free to give consent” in our psycho-babble age that most married couples today could probably get one. Is everyone who could possibly wiggle out of a valid marriage required to make sure their marriage is “wiggle proof” (any such issues decided by a tribunal even if, like me, they do not even WANT an annulment) or is it safe to carry on assuming, like the Church does, that their marriage is valid unless there’s actual evidence to the contrary?

I’d like to add that I am creeped out by the thought that my marriage, which I’ve been so sure is valid, could nevertheless be “argued” into invalidity under the guidelines I saw and not sure if I am supposed to address that somehow. All the questions on here about this seem to be from people who are actually seeking annulments, want to obtain them, and are grasping at every possible reason their first (second, third, etc) marriage didn’t exist. Always to be told “the tribunal will have to evaluate that.” One Ask an apologist question was about whether getting married at 18 would be grounds, and the questioner was told that it would have be evaluated by a tribunal, it COULD be grounds. Well, I was married at 18, too. I think i was perfectly capable of giving consent, but evidently, my marriage COULD be invalid unless a tribunal tells me otherwise??? What, is every person who married under the age of 20 supposed to have their marriage investigated later to make sure they were REALLY mature enough since they MAY not have been and MAY not be in a valid marriage after all?

Sorry, I just find it so frustrating…marriage is permanent. Sometimes people make poor choices, and I am forming the distinct impression that it is too easy to latch onto just about anything as a way out of those past choices because no one likes to think they can’t just have a “do-over” (no offense intended to anyone, I know not every person seeking an annulment falls under that umbrella). No person who is diagnosed at any point in their lives with mental illness can ever rest secure in the permanence of their marriage, because what if the illness was “latent” in its effect during the ceremony and somehow impeded consent? No young person can marry even though it’s legal both civilly and in the Church because there is no surefire way of guaranteeing their maturity when they exchange vows…honestly, how can anyone be really sure they’re really married and not living in sin with the way things are now?

All thoughts appreciated…but be please nice…I’m a young crazy woman who values her marriage :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll give my two cents, just because I am midway through this process myself.

First, age in and of itself would not make a marriage invalid…it is the maturity of the individuals at the time of the wedding. If they were immature, if they were easily led, if they were strongarmed, cajoled, or pressured…these seem to be the areas the Tribunal looks at. This is why, further, the application process for a Declaration of Nullity (not an “annulment”, as many here will point out) is not a “he said, she said” proposition. Witnesses who knew the couple at the time of the wedding are contacted. They are asked questions like “Was there pressure on _________ to be married?” There are also questions about mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, premarital counseling (was there any) etc.

I can only assure you that this is a heartwrenching, agonizing process, and can’t imagine anyone would go through it twice. Answering the Tribunal’s questions alone took days of uninterrupted work, it occured to me the reason why dioceses don’t have the forms online for downloading (i.e. “do it yourself”) is that, if you saw it without the comfort and guidance of a spiritual director or priest, you might feel so inclined as to run off and become Episcopalian, rather than go forward with the process.

A judgement has not been made in my case. I pray a judgement in my favor will come soon. If there is one reason for my posting, it is this: the process is not easy, I do not think the Tribunal folks are being “flip” about marriage, but every situation has its unique issues that can be investigated. Hope this makes sense.

Thank you for your experience, it is reassuring to hear they aren’t just handing these things out…which is the distinct impression one can get from teh interwebz, as I’ve found out. God bless you as you wait.

Remember, there’s a big difference between evidence and proof. Evidence doesn’t have to mean anything.

To this statement I would like to add: I was, too. :shrug: So have many been. I let nine years of “self repair” pass before petitioning. The feelings of personal failure are immense. I can imagine that for those who have received a Decree of Nullity, it must provide a little comfort, that the failure wasn’t perhaps just “you”.

If you work hard enough you can prove most any marriage invalid. My priest told me the real proof is in the happiness of the spouses and if the marriage is still up and running fairly smoothly. That’s not to say an unhappy spouse or snags in the plan make the marriage invalid, but only when the marriage itself from its beginning has been the cause of these things. Only when divorce has occurred can a marriage even be investigated. As long as the marriage is valid in form, the church presumes validity until the spouses prove otherwise, ie through divorce. Hope that eases your concerns a bit.


Yup, I’m sad at what you’re pointing out. You’re right, it seems as though they’re handing out annulments like candy sometimes, huh? I’m sure that you were in a much better position to marry at 18 than I was. You’re right, being young does not necessarily mean too immature. I bet our backgrounds were pretty different.

You see, I’m going to try for an annulment once I break the news to my present and last husband that I want to revert to Catholicism and get an annulment for my previous marriage. But let me 'splain. I got pregnant when I was 17, gave the baby up for adoption after she was born. My boyfriend knew I was pregnant when he met me but didn’t care. He stuck around which I thought was very noble. However, I turned around and got pregnant by him! Having just gone through her daughter having/giving up a baby, Mom said, “If you’re pregnant, you have to marry him!” I’ll never forget those words. Well, I was, and I did. I was not Catholic at that time. We really had no idea what we were doing, and having a shotgun wedding did not solve anything. This boy brought his Playboy magazines to the marriage, and was furious when I threw them out. He was unfaithful to me with his old girlfriend’s younger sister before we’d been married for two years. He made me do couple-swapping scenarios soon after that. He carried condoms around in his wallet from the start. And all that was only the beginning; it got worse over 20 years. I know that the tribunal does not judge later events as criteria for an invalid marriage, but it just proves the attitude that he brought into the marriage and never abandoned. Also, he has always considered himself an agnostic at best. But Mom said, so I had to.

Of course, getting an annulment is not a guarantee. According to what I’ve read, there’s a pretty good case. But I have to try, because my relationship with God is still more important than my relationship with my present and last husband, even as much as I love him.

So as indignant as you seem to be, try to understand someone who’s trying her best to get right with God; I’m not going to say the trite “don’t judge me!” but just know that I don’t take this upcoming possible upheaval lightly. My present husband is not Catholic and will probably be furious when I break the news, thus starting a long and painful evolution.

God bless your marriage, and I think it’s great that you value it so much. I wish things had been different for me, but I’m trying my best to fix it now.

Right, Decree of Nullity, couldn’t remember the exact term!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is what you’re pointing out. You pose an interesting question. Are you saying, that if most of the people that go through an annulment can get a decree of nullity, how many other couples out there that are happily married could, in theory, prove the same thing? Are they seen as validly married in the eyes of God when they turned out fine, but if looked into, don’t meet the criterria for a valid marriage?
I wanted to clarify your question because if this is what you’re asking it’s an interesting topic, you’re not just complaining about how common it’s becoming.
It’s interesting because the Church claims authority on the validity of marriage as it has a worldy, social aspect to it. Without checking everyone’s happy marriage to make sure of validity the question of whether or not God sees it as valid or invalid is null and void then to the Church. I do realize the Church convalidates marriage, but I don’t think it’s the same as “decree of validity” But this is just my opinion of it. This is a good philosophical thing to chew on.

If you go by the reat and almighty blogosphere, it is easy to come away with the impression that the Church is handing out declarations of nullity like candy. I think those that put forth such ideas are usually people who have not gone through the process and do not know anyone who has gone through the process. It takes a while (anywhere from 9-18 months on average). It’s not as thought people walk in, fill out a questionnaire, and then walk out with the declaration of nullity. That would be handing it out like candy. It’s a thorough process of investigation.

I admit, in my more paranoid moments, I have asked myself similar questions, but I don’t think we need to worry about it too much. :wink:

I was under the impression that declarations of nullity weren’t easily granted. I found out this weekend that my aunt (my godmother! :eek: - present for my confirmation) has had 2 of them granted.

TWO. :eek:

I was surprised and amazed. I knew she was divorced twice, and I knew she had received one for her first marriage because I remember she got married the second time in the Church. She has since long been divorced from the second fellow and so I was surprised she got the second one.

She then said she got each of those reviewed and granted… within a month.

One. Month. :eek::eek:

So she was saying this weekend that “Oh, they’ll just give you an annulment if you request one.” She sounded like it was “no big deal” and easy as if the Church were handing out candy. :frowning: I had to correct her.

Now… maybe I need correcting! :confused: :confused:

Wow! I’ve never heard of it taking only a month. Perhaps some dioceses are more lax than others? :shrug:

I dunno. Probably. I was about to mention which city this was in but decided the better of it. To be honest, I was truly shocked at just how easy it was for her. I love her dearly. But seriously. To her credit she has stayed single. My not so charitable thoughts are that she doesn’t quite know how to pick 'em. :o

A convalidation makes a ‘legal’ marriage a valid one in the Church’s eyes. One can only assume that, at the time they exchange consent again in the Church, the couple meets all the requirements for validity.

Let’s say you get married but you were coerced in some way: pregnant, etc. Years later you decide to renew your vows, this time fully meaning them. Those vows would validate a marriage that might have been deemed invalid before due to lack of full consent.

Was her first marriage in the Church? If not that would have been a simple ‘invalid due to lack of form’. That only requires paperwork since the marriage is not presumed valid and takes only a week or two – if the diocese even requires it to go to the Tribunal. Many of the ‘annulments’ we hear about are rubber stamping INVALID on marriages that never were presumed valid in the first place.

Without knowing what your aunt and her husband wrote/answered at the interviews there is no way to know if the diocese was lenient or not.

They were married in the Church. My mom and her family are very devout and practicing Catholics. I assure you, my aunt was married in the church both times. Had they not been, they would not have been my godparents.

Canon 1060 Marriage enjoys the favour of law. Consequently, in doubt the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.

All marriages are considered valid until proven otherwise. Since the church has the power to bind and loosen given to it by Christ this is so.Remember 'what is bound or loosed on earth shall be bound or loosed in heaven. There is no different opinion to God.The church is not considering God’s opinion “null and void”. God gave the church the responsibility to make the declaration. The church understands that the couple makes the bond and does not disrespect the couple by investigating what looks like a valid marriage. Unless divorce occurs and an investigation the marriage is valid for all intents and purposes. There is no sin involved by any innocent party or anyone mistakenly contracting an invalid marriage out of ignorance and living in it without knowing and seeking an investigation into it. The witnessing at the vow taking is the “decree of validity”. Thats all we need . There is no wrong involved by anyone presuming an invalid marriage to be valid.
If it is known without a shadow of a doubt that is another story entirely. For example if a catholic person knows they must get married in the catholic church and fails to do so is in a sinful state. If a priest finds this information out then he needs to cousel those people on what to do etc…

Ask aunt if you can see the copies of her decrees of nullity, explain that you are interested in the process and would like to see the documents.

There are times (especially in the 70’s and 80’s) when well meaning but ill informed priests have told people they “handled it” with no paperwork, and the folks have not actually had anything go through the tribunal.

I think this was the 90’s when she had the first one done. As for her second husband, it could have been the late 90’s, early naughts. This was relatively recently.

Much has been made of the supposedly high number of “annulments” that are granted. However, as many have already testified to on this board, it is anything but an easy process. Many individuals have found it painful and some have even left the Church over the process even though their request was granted.

As to why there seems to be such a high rate of “success”, my guess would be that usually the only people applying are people that know they probably have a good case. And secondly, outside of Hollywood, I know of very few people who just woke up one day and decided “hey its a sunny day, why don’t I get a divorce?”

If the 1st marriage was outside of the Church then the decree of nulility would be easily granted.

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