confused about annulments

Hi :slight_smile:

this is a general question about annulments… I’ve never been able to figure this out. I hope it’s alright asking in this section…

if a person gets an annulment, does that mean that basically the marriage was never valid to begin with? (and so they can marry again properly without it being adultery)

If so, - and forgive me this is a very stupid question, but - how does it then work that the person did not commit the sin of fornication while in that invalid marriage? is it because they didn’t* know *it’s invalid at the time?

sorry I’m just confused lol :blush:

I know that Christ said that divorce is allowable in cases of unfaithfulness, etc, (and presumably abuse), - and perhaps that’s where we get annulments… and that makes sense…

but how does it actually work?
thanks :slight_smile:

Intent has a lot to do with whether something is a sin. You BELIEVED at the time you were in a valid marriage. All marriages are believed to be valid unless proved otherwise.

It’s like if you bought a house and lived in it for 5 years and you later found out there really was no clear title. It wasn’t your house after all. Even though you went through all the steps to buy it legally and lived in it like it was your house. But the contract at its heart was invalid because somewhere along the line the house was not legally able to be sold. You didn’t know that and so are without fault.

So let’s look at an annulment. Johnny and Suzy marry. Sign the papers. They have the dress, the flowers, the church, etc. Lovely wedding on the surface. But later it comes to light that Johnny is married to Melinda in Dubuque. That completely invalidates the papers he signed with Suzy. She can file for an annulment (prior bond). Same if Johnny used to be Fr. Johnny but didn’t mention that to anyone and was still a functioning priest. Or if Suzy was Sr. Suzy but was never dispensed from her vows. Invalidates the contract.

Or if Johnny turned out to be Suzy’s half brother but dad never mentioned that he sold his sperm to make his way through college and that irresistible attraction she felt for Johnny turned out to be something else entirely.

Or if Johnny turned out to really be Jane, but never mentioned the operation while they were dating.

Doesn’t matter if they were married 10 years. If it turns out that the fundamental basis for the marriage didn’t exist, or there was fraud involved, or if Johnny married Suzy but only intended to stay till the 7-year-itch got him but promised Suzy it was forever…

Or if Johnny and Suzy marry and Suzy has baby fever for 15 years and Johnny keeps putting her off. Because he never really wanted kids to begin with.

Or say Johnny married Suzy and promised to forsake all others, but clearly intended to keep the college girlfriend on the side and a few others and Suzy found out about them about 8 years later.

Or say Johnny married Suzy because it would make him look good, but he had Bruce on the side and always loved Bruce more. But didn’t tell Suzy about that side of his life.

There are many reasons that a marriage could look valid for a while, but the inherent wrongness of it all causes it to eventually come collapsing down on everyone like a house that looked cute, but was built out of papermache or something and never should have passed inspection to begin with. It wasn’t fit for human habitation. Same with some marriages. :frowning:

It works because we believe marriage creates an indelible bond between two people that can only be broken by death.

In a valid marriage that bond holds on through thick and thin till death.

In an invalid marriage, the two objects never “bonded.” Something kept the bond from taking hold. (Ever tried to use Elmers school glue on some substances and no matter how you try nothing will hold for long because of the inherent nature of the materials involved. Paper and Elmers = bond with other paper. Plastic and elmers = not so good bond with most things.)

No bond created = falls apart at the first pressure test.

All marriages are assumed to be invalid until it is proven otherwise. Therefore there is no sexual sin unless one of the partners knows he has an impediment and hides it. Then there is sexual sin for him/her among other sins.

Here’s a few links to help you –

catholic.com/library/Permanence_of_Matrimony.asp

catholic.com/thisrock/2006/0610btb.asp

catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9909fea2.asp

Go and tell that to my wife! :D:D:D

thank you! :slight_smile: that really helps.

WOW, what a typo! Of course I meant assumed to be valid. Whew! Could have caused a lot of trouble with that one. LOL

Christ did not say that unfaithfulness was a reason for divorce, that is what some people have misread Christ to have said.

While infidelity may be a symptom of something that does mean the marriage was invalid, it in and of itself is not reason for divorce or invalidity.

Right. When Christ was speaking of the ‘separate case’ most probably what he meant was just such an invalid marriage. In the case where a man and woman marry, if one of the parties cannot consent, if there is something ‘hidden’, etc., this could look like a perfectly VALID marriage but it would not be one. In this case they would have to divorce because even though there was not a valid sacramental marriage, there was still a civil form of marriage which needed to be undone through divorce. And we know from Scripture that there were indeed cases of such unlawful marriages (think for example of the woman at the well).

And that is a reason why the Church does not allow one to petition for a decree of nullity until one is civilly divorced.

Your are absolutely right in this - as a matter of fact I remember in our marriage prep the deacon explaining that the proctors of the FOCUS test want to hear that each member of a prospective couple would be willing to forgive the action of adultery. It is not about the action and punishment it is about the love we show through forgiveness. Granted I am not talking about serial adultery - I am talking about the one time offense with an act of contrition.

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