Contesting Annulments

My spouse is in the process of getting an annulment. It is being contested by his ex-spouse.

She remarried after their marriage; and then divorced after 2 years. I am not understanding why she would remarry then divorce and now think that her marriage to my husband should not be annulled by the church. We have been married for 25 plus years. Will this be taken in account for him being granted his annulment? Please let me know your thoughts.

Jack2

A decree of nullity is based on the finding that something was lacking when consent was exchanged, and thus the marriage was never validly contracted. So what happened a year or ten years or twenty-five years later, while it could be used as supporting evidence of some condition that might have invalidated the marriage, is not going to be a factor in determining whether the marriage was valid or not. It’s about what happened at the time the vows were exchanged.

-Fr ACEGC

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Thank you.

When one partner applies for an annulment, and the other partner is notified, can the other party register arguments in favor of the validity of the marriage — in other words, “fight it” and attempt to refute what the applying party claims? And would these arguments in favor of validity weaken the overall case for nullity?

What I have in mind is the other partner basically acting as their own “defender of the bond”.

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I would very much recommend this book:

Not saying this is the case, however, there are people who contest nullity investigations because they believe that a null finding somehow impacts children (it does not). Others who do it simply out of a desire to control the situation. Someone else may honestly feel that their consent was rock solid at the wedding, not understand that the other party’s consent may have been lacking.

It is best not to speculate on someone’s reasons, simply be prayerful and realize that an “annulment” is not a guarantee.

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No tribunal would allow that.

Remember, as Father said so well, a declaration of nullity is based on what happend at the wedding. Only that.

Why not? Isn’t an investigation into the possible nullity of a marriage supposed to be a search for truth, regardless of where that search may lead? Isn’t it a case of stating all the relevant facts, whatever those facts may be?

But doesn’t the Church also look at the pre-existing mindset, what kind of intentions, what kind of things the partners each brought into the marriage? Those things can impact ability to consent.

It is true that nothing (aside from non-consummation) that happens after the wedding can render a marriage null, but traits, attitudes, psychological imbalances that only become evident after the wedding can also reveal the kind of consent and knowledge that a partner brought into the marriage.

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Yes, it is.

No tribunal will allow one of the involved parties to act as their own “defender of the bond”.

Yes, this is why one needs witness who knew you in the time leading up to the wedding. The state of mind, attitude, life experience, that formed a person can have impact on their consent.

I was not clear, but, the vigor with which a respondent tries to “contest” the tribunal does not have any bearing on the tribunal’s decision. It is about the consent at the wedding.

I did not mean being a formal defensor vinculi. I meant that the party who is served with notice that the other party has filed for an annulment could say, in effect, “No, I am not going to give you any information that calls into question the validity of the marriage, because there is none — on the other hand, there are a whole slew of reasons that the marriage was valid, and here they are. Make of my comments what you will.”.

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He is doing the right thing applying for the annulment. This doesn’t sound comforting but our Lord is going to take care of this. The devil wants to discourage you and get your husband to back out of the annulment process, wants to prevent full communion. Just trust Him and be not afraid. He goes before you to prepare a path.

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[ASIDE]

Consummation does not make a marriage valid, nor does non-consummation render a valid marriage null.

(Consummation does seal a valid, sacramental marriage as indissoluble)

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I have been a “witness” to a hearing of nullity. I was given a form to fill out with questions about the husband and wife, the husband was seeking the annulment. The wife was not in favor of the annulment but I don’t know that she fought it because she thought that it would make the children illegitimate. I don’t know how hard she fought it but she no longer talks to me or my wife. She is a neighbor and actually turns away to avoid us. The annulment was granted.

Perhaps “null” is not the word I should have used here, but if a marriage has not yet been consummated, it can be dissolved. The end result is the same — the parties are now free to remarry.

Ultimately, though, isn’t the Church just taking the word of the spouses? Aside from the intactness or lack thereof in the woman (and that is no proof at all, intactness does not prove virginity and non-intactness does not disprove it), there is no “evidence” that can be produced.

If I recall correctly, Congressman Joseph Kennedy II petitioned for a decree of nullity from his wife, and ultimately the local tribunal approved and granted the declaration of nullity. Sheila Rauch Kennedy disagreed with the decision, and appealed the case to the Vatican. In the end, she was successful, and the Roman Rota reversed the local tribunal, and declared the marriage to be valid.

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Yes, but what else is there and why would one assume they are lying? There’s nothing to gain except perhaps temporally, and that only in the mind of the liar who will have to answer to God for his or her lie and all its consequences. That’s only a decent trade-off to the faithless. They may not meet Ananias and Saphira’s fate in the exact same manner, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be that person.

Agreed.

Of course you didn’t mean that she’s acting as a formal “defender of the bond”, but rather she may choose to use whatever influence she has as one of the two primary witnesses to the marriage to oppose the annulment. A witness can easily slant their very subjective evidence one way or the other (eg. emphasising that “due consideration” was either lacking or not). They also have the option of appealing the annulment after it has been granted (as pointed out above)

Her evidence will be considered along with any other presented to the tribunal (of course).

Why would a person who themselves later remarried oppose an annulment?

There could any many reasons. As someone has suggested earlier in the thread, it could be out of consideration for the children or it could be to control the situation. Perhaps they have reconsidered the whole marriage in a better light and see it has having been true?

It happened to me, albeit unsuccessfully. My ex-wife left the Church and also left me for another man (non-Christian), alleging that our marriage had been wrong from the start, and married him two years later. I applied for an annulment after five years, while she was still in her second marriage. She attended her interview and later told me that she went in with the intention of preserving the marriage! Knowing her as I do, I suspect this was partly out of spite, to keep me locked into a single life by my own religious beliefs, and also to maintain a “romantic” fiction about her own life and about her “first marriage”. (Her second marriage lasted ten years, before she “found real love” again).

At the end of my own interview the tribunal member asked me one last question “Do you expect your wife will tell the truth?”, anticipating that witnesses can lie to a tribunal, and that their testimony is important.

My annulment proceeded quite easily however, on grounds of “lack of due consideration” by both parties, and with other evidence.

Ahhh. Gotcha 12345

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