General question about annulment


I know the basics about annulments when it comes to being free to remarry in the Church, but is there any reason for two non-catholics who were married civilly by a JP to get an annulment if neither of them are planning to remarry in the near future? Since they are not Catholic, would they be bound to act as though they are still married (i.e., not dating) even after the civil divorce was final?


They would be, but chances are if they recognized that, they’d be Catholic. It’s no different than the teachings on abortion or artificial birth control applying to non-Catholics as well. The only thing is that the non-Catholics don’t recognize the authority of the Church. So, while I would not give them advice that goes against Church teaching, I would be rather understanding that they don’t have the knowledge that Catholics have.


Thanks dulcissima! I totally understand that they would not have the same knowledge and respect for Church authority, and I wouldn’t try to force anyone to do anything in that situation. If they did want to get their marriage annulled, would they just go to any priest to start the process?


I believe that at least one of them must convert to the Catholic Church before the Church would claim any authority in the matter. However, I may be mistaken.


That’s what I was wondering about. I figured that the rules applied to them, but will the Church take the trouble to investigate the validity of the marriage if neither of them is Catholic? :shrug:


Talking to a priest would be a good start. Although I would have to wonder why someone who wasn’t a Catholic, doesn’t plan on being a Catholic, and doesn’t plan to marry a Catholic would be interested in the Church’s authority in the matter of their marriage. If they really did have a desire to start the annulment process, I would really question them because maybe it is an indication that they are being called to become Catholic.


all the replies so far are off the mark, you may want to visit the liturgy and sacraments forum and cruise threads on annulments, particularly link to book Annullment: the Marriage that Wasn’t

OP does not give any of the relevant info needed to answer the question. that info can be elicited only by the priest who interviews the couple and assists them with the process. there is absolutely no way to give an answer about a hypothetical case, each situation is unique.

some missing info: did they subsequently divorce. is either planning to become Catholic. is either planning to marry a Catholic. No one does not have to be Catholic to have the canon law tribunal investigate the validity of a putative marriage. If a divorced person is planning to marry a Catholic, they must get a judgement on the previous marriage, because they are not free to marry. The Catholic fiance is bound by Church law and cannot marry a divorced person.

rather pointless to continue discussing a hypothetical case, if these people are close to you advise them to see a priest.

there is no such thing as “getting my marriage annulled” the process is a legal investigation into the circumstances that pertained at the time of the marriage (not after) and whether valid consent was possible, intended, and actually happened. Yes non-Catholics can petition for a decision from the canon law tribunal on their marriage.


Between two baptised Christians, a marriage is valid and sacramental unless there’s a defect of form or consent or an impediment. Objectively, that first marriage holds unless something was wrong with it at the point of contraction, to such an effect that the marriage would be invalid as a result.

Besides, what puzzleannie said.


Thanks for the replies, everyone. I guess my main question is if the Church would even allow non-Catholics to petition for an annulment, and it looks like puzzleannie answered that for me. :slight_smile:

The reason I asked is that I have a friend who just went through a divorce and is interesting in investigating the Church. She is not dating or thinking of marrying anytime in the near future, and is not even sure about wanting to attend RCIA, though I think that she sees seeking an annulment as a step toward healing. Thanks again for all your input! :thumbsup:


your friend is quite right, and an often overlooked aspect of the process is healing and closure.

she will not be obliged to seek an annulment before beginning RCIA (assuming she has not remarried or become engaged in the meantime) but she will if she becomes Catholic, and subsequently wishes to remarry. It would be a good idea to discuss the situation when she meets with the priest or deacon to ask about RCIA


We always strongly reccommend that RCIA participants seek a declaration of nullity if there is any chance they might remarry in the future. It’s best if they come into the Church clearly understanding their status re marriage.

Also, if one is to seek a declaration it is best to do so as soon as possible while witnesses are available and memories are fresh, or at least fresher than they will be in a few years.



I just wanted to clarify something mentioned earlier… the book recommended was wrongly titled…

The book recommended is “Annulment - The Wedding That Was” by Michael Smith Foster.

It really does a wonderful job of explaining what the Church teaches what marriage is, and therefore what it isn’t (aka the annulment process).

My husband was not Catholic when he attempted marriage the first time. He started into RCIA a year or so after his divorce was final and then started his annulment process at the same time. We met several years later, but it was really nice to know that this was all in the works, so to speak, when we met. His case took a longer time than most, because he married in another country, but all in all, it was nice to have it already being worked on when we met.


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