Does the way annulment works result in de facto divorce?


What a nonsensical and terrible thing to say.



Yes, it is.



Yet my theology professors (including Canon Law) from time past would also agree with this pastoral observation.

Many young couples dont really have the maturity needed to marry but if you tried to stop them there would be outrage by all involved.

So yes it is nonsensical to do but seems reasonable to observe.

Most mature into the role so best to leave to God and leave the Marriage Tribunals to mop up those that dont.


I used to believe that declarations of nullity were granted far too freely. Then I learned more and I also met a man who needed a declaration of nullity so that we could be married. (He received it and we are sacramentally married.)

I suspect that in many cases, people who petition for a declaration of nullity fall into a number of distinct groups:

  1. Divorced Catholic wishing to remarry
  2. Divorced non-Catholic wishing to marry a Catholic
  3. Divorced and remarried non-Catholic wishing to become Catholic
  4. Divorced Catholic who has been away from the Church, married outside the Church, and now wishes to remarry in the Catholic Church.

Note that in three of those cases the people involved likely did not have Catholic marriage preparation. In Hubby’s case, neither he nor his ex were Catholic when they married. She was baptized Lutheran but non-practicing, he had never been baptized (raised as a Jehovah’s Witness but never formally baptized and left the organization years earlier). Hubby was baptized Catholic and his ex was received into the Church after their marriage. Hubby told me that they had had no marriage preparation at all.

Back in the day, mixed marriages were not very common. Consequently, most people would have been marrying fellow Catholics and they would have likely had good marriage preparation. As others have pointed out, divorce also was not very common. Consequently, it is hard to make the case that there are many declarations of nullity that should not have been granted based solely on a numbers analysis.


What is called “the favor of the law” (presumption of validity) is a legal concept that goes beyond “the benefit of the doubt.” “Innocent until proven guilty” is comparable to this presumption. It’s part of the legal system of the Church and civil law operates similarly. When we deal with contracts, it’s all the legal system can do–presume that was happened externally resulted in a valid contract.

The people involved can have as much certitude as they want. I know I’m married. I don’t “presume” I’m married: the legal system presumes it, not me.



This is why I sometimes break down the nullity process by explaining that it is similar to a trial, except that it is the marriage that’s on trial. You have a defense lawyer (the defender of the bond) and a panel of judges.


UNTIL Last Rites, they could then confess the sin of remarriage and die in a state of grace. Rolling the dice that they did not die unexpectedly.


Nonsensical and terrible? Maybe. But, consider this: if one person (could be the petitioner) lacked discernment of what it meant to make a lifelong commitment at the point of the marriage ceremony, that can be grounds for the issuance of a decree of nullity. In this way, the petitioner has the opportunity to influence the outcome by recognizing the inability to hold true to a lifelong commitment, implying he or she couldn’t discern what that meant when they got married. Debatably, the fact they’re divorced proves this lack of discernment to become self-fulfilling and true, in retrospect.


I’m pretty sure he’s referring to the idea that 1/2 of marriages are invalid …


That’s what I would have to call circular reasoning.



I am surprised that the Church would condone that phoney behavior. They might have died in a pronounced state of grace but I wonder how God sees that. If the confessor is not sincere can they still be granted a state of grace?


Completely agree!

But, that’s precisely what can occur when a person seeks a degree of nullity and describes their lack of ability to discern a lifelong commitment “at the point they got married“.


Take time to consider that not every person is a perfect person. Deathbed confession, even deathbed conversion, is a beautiful thing. God’s mercy never says “sorry, you are too late to repent”. St Dismas, pray for us.


I agree completely but sinning willfully with the idea that I will repent just before death so that I can enjoy my sin while alive is surely not blessed by Catholicism?


Having been through the annulment process, it seems that most people could receive a decree of nullity by describing the lack of discernment of what it means to make a lifelong commitment at the point a couple was married. Thoughts?


This is not a grounds accepted in the law.

Lack of sound reason or mature judgement is gounds.


Fair point. Will ask another way:

It seems that most people could receive a decree of nullity by describing that one party lacked mature judgement regarding what it means to make a lifelong commitment at the point a couple was married. Thoughts?


The Tribunal requires more than a single person “describing” things. Witnesses are required.


However, if the couple did indeed, civilly divorce, it would be difficult to argue that they possessed maturity to discern what a lifelong commitment meant when they got married


People civilly divorce for reasons ranging from dire to silly.

Some websites want the faithful to doubt the authority of the Tribunal process.

Thing is, all it takes is volunteering as an advocate with your Tribunal to go through training that gives one the big picture. Talk to the people who have divorced and had their marriages found to be valid. Talk the people who have refiled numerous times and the Tribunals always find the attempt at marriage to be valid. It will be eye-opening to find that decrees of nullity are not simply given out like Trick or Treat candy.

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