Another annulment question

In my research on marriage and what is a sacramental marriage I haven’t been able to find the answer to a couple of questions. A quick disclaimer here - this is NOT my situation, my marriage case was determined several months ago.

If a Catholic man and a baptized woman are married in the Catholic Church, a first marriage for both, no mental illness or defect, participated in marriage prep, all the things that appear to make a sacramental marriage are present, what could be grounds for an annulment? The couple was married for a little over 20 years, have three children, and while she is not a Catholic she is a practicing Christian. They divorced 2-3 years ago and he now wants to marry his girlfriend. She is not Catholic and is also divorced. I don’t know much about her previous marriage or life before meeting him.

My concern is she doesn’t know much about the Catholic faith and truly believes he will marry her. She doesn’t really understand the concept of marriage as a covenant. He just avoids the subject, thinking somehow it will all go away.

Does anyone know of situations or cases where there appeared to be a sacramental marriage and an annulment was granted?

I can recommend the book Annulment, The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster.

There may have been serious issues you were not privvy to, so yes it is possible, that does not mean it is likely. The girlfriend is also not free to marry at this time, and her prior marriage would also have to be examined and she would have to be found free to marry through a decree of nullity (or other process depending on the details of her situation).

Beyond that, I think it is not only pointless, but counter productive to speculate.

There is a bit of confirmation bias, that most couples that apply for an annulment will receive one. This fact may be superficially true, but neglects the fact that many divorced couples are “prescreened” by their local priest, who will advise them if an annulment is likely or appropriate. Those who pursue an annulment are those who have strong enough grounds to suspect invalidity.

In situations such as you’ve described, many divorced couples will not pursue an annulment, because their priest will advice them it is futile (unfortunately, such a couple does not always live appropriately as a separated married couple.)

Annulments are not an absolute right. The church witnesses marriages specifically to eliminate as many potential defects as possible before the vows are exchanged. Finding defects such as of lack of consent or insufficient maturity are rare among those married in the church, as the church takes its role of safe guarding marriage very seriously.

Barring undisclosed details which ought to remain private, the (hypothetical?) couple you describe do not seem to have a strong case for an annulment.

Thank you. The couple are real, just not me. I feel bad for the girlfriend as she really has no idea the importance the Church puts on a sacramental marriage. I believe he doesn’t feel an annulment will be granted in his case which is why he avoids the issue completely. His wife (ex-wife) probably has no interest in pursuing the annulment as she isn’t Catholic and to the best of my knowledge has no desire to remarry. Of all three she is the most likely to actually be living as a still married woman. He isn’t and the girlfriend just doesn’t know she should.

I was just interested if others knew of cases similar to this where annulments were granted or if not, what happened to the relationship.

Is he interested in marriage as a covenant? Is he interested in a Sacramental Marriage at some point with this woman? Is he working with his priest towards annulments.

Grounds for receiving a declaration of nullity could come in a variety of ways. For instance, if one did not intend for it to be a lifelong commitment.

In the end, there isn’t anything we can say as to the validity of the marriage. The best thing for him would be to just go ahead and file for an annulment and allow the committee to do their research into the marriage.

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