Father won't sign annulment papers


Dear Friends,

My mother is very distraught to the point of almost leaving the Church.

My father and mother divorced about 11 years ago. Both have remarried.

My father has left the Church completely, becoming fundamentalist Baptist. My mother has been seeking out an annulment, but my father says he no longer recognizes the authority of the Catholic Church and will not sign the papers.

Her pastor has told her there is nothing that can be done. Are there any canon lawyers out there who could challenge that? I’m really in need of an answer on this. At least to give her hope.

Many thanks,



as I understand the annulment process … not from a Canon law standpoint, but from one who’s “been there, done that” …

I was VERY concerned that my XH would not co-operate with the process. The way that the Archdiocese “annulment liason” explained it to me was as such …
They would send him the papers … he had a number of options …

  1. to cooperate fully
  2. to sign the paperwork, refusing to cooperate … which would render him unable to change his mind later down the road
    (meaning, he couldn’t go back and refute testimony I had given, etc)
  3. ignore the paperwork … and the process would go on without him. In this choice, I think he would have the opportunity to “jump in” midway if he chose.

The way it was explained to me … the Church has safeguards built in for the petitioner, as well as the respondant. As the petitioner, you have the right to a fair/speedy process. They give the respondant time to respond, but, after a set amount of time, they go on without the respondant’s input.

Have your mother call a priest, or better yet, the Archdiocese in your area.

Good luck!


just re-read your post … about the pastor…

like I said, based on my own experience, I DO NOT think her pastor is correct.

She should call the Archdiocese, and find out who handles annulments. They will have folks there, trained to handle any questions your mother would have.


Some men are on a power kick. They no longer follow the church, but they will stall any attempt by an ex wife to get free, knowing she will obey the church’s marriage laws. The church is very familiar with these kinds of people. In some ways, he helps prove what an unsuitable disagreeable uncooperative man he is by refusing to cooperate. She needs to go to the diocese chancery and talk to them there. Her pastor may have handled so few annulments he doesn’t know the rules. The church will proceed without a second party. This happens many times. One party leaves, disappears, moves, refuses to cooperate. Tell your mom not to abandon hope.


Her pastor is not correct. My ex did not sign the annulment papers because he was in the same boat as the OP’s father - he didn’t not recognize the authority of the church. I got my declaration of nullity last year.

Have her contact the Marriage Tribunal/Board of the Diocese. A canon lawyer can explain the options available to her.


He does not have to participate in the annulment in order for it to proceed. It doesn’t matter if he won’t sign the papers or fill out any forms, she can still proceed.

She needs to contact he local diocesan tribunal and make another appointment with her priest.

However, she needs to step back and realize that by remarrying she has committed a gravely wrong act. And, she also must be willing to live with the consequences should her marriage be found valid. Applying for a decree of nullity does not guarantee one is granted-- her marriage may very well have been valid.

She has created this mess. I hope it works out, but it sounds like she is ready to leave the Church should she not get her way. Not exactly obedience to Christ there.


Just a quick point, after an annulment, the man isn’t an ex husband, he was never a husband to begin with.:slight_smile:


My ex did not participate or respond in any way, he just didn’t care. My petition was still accepted and the “marriage” found to be null. He does NOT have to sign the papers or participate in anyway.

He will still receive a copy of the decree, however. He does have a right to know the outcome of the proceedings, whether he participates or not.



I too, have an ex that did not participate in the process. He had no interest and simply did not respond to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal has a built into it’s review system the reality that some spouses will not cooperate. When the spouse refuses to contact the Tribunal within stated periods of time, the Tribunal simple keeps moving ahead in it’s review.

Either your mother is simply misinformed and is spreading more misinformation ( to you) or she really has not looked into the process and spoken to her sponsor priest - which should have been her initial contact.

Best regards in this matter and may the Holy Spirit clear up the misinformation.


could I call him the "man formerly referred to as husband’?:stuck_out_tongue:

Most days, I call him “oil” …

You guessed it … I am Water …


Hahah. I refer to mine as the Non-husband. Or “Mulligan.” Golfers will be familiar with that term. :smiley:


Gee, I have actual time to participate in the past two days.

ANYWAY- My ex did not participate, refused to do so, same reason (but just some offshoot independent fundamentalist). And to top things off, my own mother wrote some scathing stuff to the tribunal.

And yet I have a decree, and was able to marry my sweetie.


Lot’s of people when they leave a religion no longer wish to have anything to do with it. Understandably so, when I officially left the Mormon church on my priest’s advice after converting to Orthodoxy, I certainly would have refused to take part in any church displinary actions. When my aunt left Mormonism and divorced her husband she refused to take part in the “temple divorce” process (not unlike a Catholic annullment). It certainly didn’t make her a batterer trying to control her ex-husband. It did make her a woman that didn’t want to answer extremely personal questions ask by people she didn’t consider valid religious authorities. Churches that conduct these processes, and that includes the RCC, understand in many cases one ex-spouse will not be willing to cooperate and have in place proceedures to complete these processes with only one cooperating ex-spouse. Divorces are painful events in people’s lives and most do not wish to relive the experience by having the entire former marriage probed while clergy from a church you no longer belong to decide if it was valid or not. Insteading of taking shots at someone’s character or accusing them of spousal abuse maybe some Christian charity and understanding ought to be extended to people we don’t even know.


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