Divorce, Annulments, & Adultery


I am divorced and in the process of getting an annulment. I just finished my interview with one of the tribunal members, and an interesting thought came up in our conversation I did not get to explore. Since the separation, I have not dated but my ex-wife has, even before the divorce. When does adultery end? My wife was having relation with someone else during our marriage and while we we separated which is adultey. After we got divorce is she still committing adultery until the annulment goes through or is this now fornication? If I did date someone and kissed them between divorce and annulment is this adultery?


Strictly speaking, it’s adultery. However, is there any significance to you of the distinction at this point? She is, perhaps, in a state of sin. (That doesn’t affect the outcome of the nullity case, however.)

It’s certainly inadvisable. Whether or not your current actions are sinful, and the extent of the culpability you bear for them, is a matter for you and your confessor to discuss. :wink:


According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, as long as you are still considered married by the church, anyone who engages in extramarital relations is committing adultery toward the other spouse. Adultery only “ends” when the marriage is declared null…the church always leans toward the validity of a marriage until proven otherwise.

You did the right thing in not dating or getting involved with someone else. This is where the problem usually lies with these types of issues. People do not get a declaration of nullity from the church and then they get involved with another person and according to the church, they are still married to their original spouse.

Good luck.


Did you mean "People WHO do not get a declaration of nullity from the church and then get involved with another person, according to the church, are still married to their original spouse??

Not sure if I am reading your statement correctly, or understand your meaning


Key thing to keep in mind, an “annulment” is a phrase that clouds things.

A decree of nullity means that back at your wedding a marriage was never formed.

Now, neither of you knew that on that day or in the following days/weeks/months/years, so, you are expected to have been faithful to each other.

Until the Tribunal decrees that no marriage took place, dating or kissing or marriage is all wrong.


You all seem to agree with what I was thinking and taught. The person who interview me for the council made a statement about the divorce like I was able to date but could not go to communion which to me sound like it would be adultery. Thanks for the replys.


A date is not really adultery, but, it is unseemly.


I don’t know if it’d be considered adultery or not. What’s the purpose of going on a date? To spend time with someone whom you are interested in having a relationship. If you are pursuing a relationship, is that adultery? Or is adultery limited to physical acts? Jesus tells us that lusting is adultery, so things are not clear cut.

Unseemly is a good word. Highly inadvisable at a minimum - as others have said, what if strong feelings develop? Then, you are tempted to actually commit adultery. Worse, what if the tribunal does not find the marriage a nullity? Are you then, with a now strong attachment to the other, willing to break it off? Or, are you more likely to pull a Henry VIII and leave the Church?


In the eyes of the State, once a divorce is final, the State does not consider them married.

The church does not recognize divorce. Marriage is a covenant relationship. and continues until death of one of the spouses. That means, both parties are considered married to each other, whether they A) separate permanently; B) obtain a civil divorce; C) obtain a civil divorce and marry someone else in a civil or Protestant ceremony, D) obtain a civil divorce and both parties marry someone else in a civil or Protestant ceremony. In other words, the Church considers them in the above scenarios to still be married to each other.

A decree of nullity is a finding by a Church tribunal that there was, on the day of the wedding, either an impediment (for example, being too closely related - there are a number of impediments) or a failure of one or both of the parties to have the necessary consent to marry (for example, one of the parties marries assuming the other is rich - and they are not; they would not have married otherwise had they knows the true facts). The;re are a number of things which can prevent the necessary consent. The tribunal’s decree states that the marriage never occurred - the wedding did, but the marriage did not.

According to a study done by CARA, approximately 7% of divorced people obtain a decree of nullity, and 8% do not (which covers people who only talked with the pastor or advocate, to those who went through he whole process and did not receive a decree of nullity).


Reference your last question, I am going to say something that is very harsh, and while I do not mean to be unkind, I do mean to be blunt and not detour around Jones barn.

Dating someone before you have received a decree of nullity is just plain stupid. There is a lot of urban mythology that decrees of nullity are handed out like candy. The truth is, they are not. So you have no business whatsoever forming a friendship with another individual while the Church still says you are married.

There is an old phrase that there is never a fight between one person - it takes two. You have been in an intense relationship which has failed. Without getting into trying to “find fault”, both parties have some responsibility in the failure of that marriage. It is said that it takes about 2 years on average to deal with the grief of the death of a spouse, and the same should apply to someone who has divorced, if people are actually working on what they did or did not do, or should have done differently in the marriage, That should include as least some professional counseling.

Failure to do that runs a high risk of carrying the same patterns into any new relationship. And no, you cannot be working on the new relationship at the same time. No one except rodeo clowns rides two horses at the same time.

Assuming that you will receive a decree of nullity, you owe it to yourself, as well as anyone in the future you might possibly marry, to sort out what occurred in the prior marriage ans work on those issues. Otherwise, you run a high risk of repeating the same or very similar mistakes. Or, as the saying goes, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result in a form of insanity.


Thanks for the reply, I agree with everything you said. You are not harsh at all , just a realist. FYI I had already done the things you suggest and I am in no hurry to get into another relationship. If the annulment is not granted, Iam prepared to live single.


Then you are on the right path. May God grant you peace of mind and heart.


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