Does the way annulment works result in de facto divorce?


No. A divorce doesn’t end anything in the eyes of God.

An annulment is the statement by the Church that a complete joining never existed.

Very different.


Agreed definitely very different at least theoretically. How about in practice? That’s what I mean when I say “de facto”


Here is information on what putative means:


I’m not sure what the word de facto really means here…

The only “facts” we should be concerned about are what God thinks is a fact.

“De facto” could be used to essentially say “we make our own reality, outside of what God sees as true”.

Be careful with such sloppy and pliable words.

On the “surface” both may seem to result in the same, but deeper - in God’s eyes - the realities haven’t changed.


So now I feel like we’re back on square one where it’s not a marriage and the relations between the people shouldn’t have happened. I don’t seem to be getting what you’re driving at.

Is it a marriage or not? If it’s not then how can the sex the couple had not be described as “unwitting fornication”? That seems trivially true. If it is a marriage how can it be annuled? You don’t get it both ways.


Is it a marriage in God’s eyes? That’s the only question worth asking. Was there a “binding,” a true conjugal union, in the eyes of God.

The Church decides based on the evidence presented.


Words have meaning. If you are going to keep pretending they don’t, this isn’t going to be productive.

I suggest you read the book I recommend for a better understanding of nullity. You can get it on inter library loan if you don’t want to buy it.


In canon law, which governs annulments, marriages are always presumed to be valid until proven otherwise. There is no unwitting fornication, because it is presumed to be valid. You can’t unwittingly sin. They are, in their eyes and the eyes of the Church, married. It’s almost like asking why we can’t arrest someone who has an inclination towards criminal activity, but hasn’t yet committed a crime.


I suppose that’s what’s so deeply unsatisfying about the church’s stance on this. It ends up being we can never know if anyone is married. We just give them the benefit of the doubt and say they are.


As I’ve said to another poster. It’s clear that the people, or at least the one who married in good faith hasn’t sinned. But it’s obvious they had sex with someone they aren’t married to. Hence my use of “unwitting formication”. I didn’t expect to get so much push back on that part of what I said. That seems true by the very definition of the terms.


No it’s not. For one, fornication is a sin, period. There is no unwitting fornication like there is no unwitting mortal sin. It’s a contradiction of terms. And it’s not obvious that they had sex with someone they’re not married to. That’s why annulment Tribunals take so long and require so much information. They are not trivial and have the souls of the people involved in their care.


The problem is that your term doesn’t make any sense. Imagine if a grand jury charged a defendant with “unintentional murder.” The case would be dismissed, because — by definition — murder is the intentional and unlawful killing of a human being. You can’t commit murder unintentionally.

You’re asking about fornication — presumably the sin of fornication, not the crime of fornication. Sins cannot be committed unknowingly. So your proposition (that the putative spouses have committed “unwitting fornication”) is an oxymoron. It’s like saying that they drew a square circle.

If they thought they were married, then they could not have committed fornication with each other. It’s as simple as that.


In the US that’s called manslaughter or less commonly known as 3rd degree murder…


I’m no lawyer, but there are multiple forms of “accidental murder” in the law. Not just manslaughter. If you want to be that picky, then for this example, it’s unintentional first degree murder.


None of these are grounds that would make a marriage null, they may be symptoms of a defect.

The word “annulments” is misleading, and is not the official term.

Going to talk first of Sacramental marriage (two validly baptized people who are free to marry who attempt to do so)

Remember, in other Sacraments the minister is the priest or bishop (except in emergency Baptisms and we shall leave that aside for now). In marriage, the two prospective spouses are the ministers, the priest, deacon, bishop, is there as a witness.

If at that wedding one or both of the parties had some sort of defect in their consent, a valid marriage did not result from the wedding. They may live together, have children, and only when the symptoms become too big to ignore are they made aware that they did not form a valid marriage in that exchange of consent during the wedding.

All the Church does is to review the things that led up to the wedding, the state of mind of both parties at the wedding, and determines if a valid marriage happened.

If they determine a defect, they issue a decree of nullity. It means while they attempted, the consent was not valid in some way.

This is a reason we parents need to start teaching our kids about what marriage IS from the time they are children, the world is going to tell them marriage is about romance and soul mates. That, as we can see, ends up with defective consent.

Romance is icing on the cake. Teach the kids first about what makes a proper cake.


When I applied to the Diocesan Tribunal for a decree of nullity, the deacon advised that conditions existing before the marriage, even if identified after the marriage (in some cases decades after) could be used as conditions to seek an annulment. As he described many possible scenarios, he went on to say that as many as half of existing marriages in the Catholic Church would likely be eligible for a a decree of nulity if sought (but only after a civil divorce is completed).


Isn’t that an issue? I find that deeply troubling, and it makes me the question of even trusting the church with my marriage. (Not that I’m anywhere near making that choice or even sure it’s my vocation.)


That is one person’s opinion.

Look at it this way, a defect in consent, a truly invalid marriage, is like cancer. Some people go years before they have symptoms, some ignore the symptoms and choose not to seek treatment, but, that does not mean the cancer is not harming you.


It IS deeply troubling, but possibly not entirely inaccurate. Many, many people marry without knowing how to discern what it means to make a life long commitment. That lack of understanding, in and of itself, may be sufficient to justify a degree of nullity


Not sure what you mean.
It will affect both persons…a bond is a bond…or not.

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