Grounds for Anullment?


Hey all,

you may not remember my posts, but you were very helpful last time. I have a question on the Catholic teachings on divorce/annulment.

It appears my two good friends are going to get divorced. I went o high school and college with both and have been friends with the guy since i was 4. He is willing to work on it, she is not. They have been to the consoler together a couple times, and them by themselves a couple times too… to the same therapist all times. The the Therapist obviously cant say anything about the wife’s sessions to the husband, but she stated in not so many words that the wife could be bipolar or have some sort of disorder as she is acting very irrationally.

Now, from my guy friends perspective, he is going to go ahead with the divorce because she is unresponsive to any other ideas except her own, which is to sell the house and move on. She is Lutheran, he is Catholic, and they got married in a Lutheran church. Is this enough grounds for an anullment? I have been reading up on it and i think it is, but i am not positive. It is kind of confusing.

Also, i have scheduled a time to meet with the wife next week just to hear her side of this whole deal and hear for myself why she wants out so badly.

There is much more to this story, but i guess for now i am just interested in divorce/annulment part of it.

Thanks for any insight or prayers you can give.



If your friend got married in the Lutheran Church without getting permission to marry a non-Catholic and obtaining a dispensation for lack of canonical form from his bishop he is already in an invalid marriage. After a divorce he might not even have to petition for a decree of nullity depending on what the policies are in his diocese.

However, if he did everything on the up and up with the Catholic church then he’ll have to find another reason to petition for a decree of nullity.


Well, if they married in a Lutheran Church without getting the proper dispensations then he may be able to get the marriage ruled invalid by defect of form (which technically isn’t a ruling of nullity but one still goes through the same channels to obtain it.)

In general, it’s not proper to think of ‘grounds for an annulment’. It’s more a case where there was a lack of the necessary requirements for a valid marriage in the first place. What happens after the wedding is only relevant in so far as it provides evidence as to the state of things at the time the two exchanged vows.

In any case, this needs to be discussed with the parish priest to start the process. We can only speculate here about what *might *be the case


Dan, that depends on several factors. Do not attempt to give your friend advice in this area. Advise him to go see his priest and lay out all the facts.

A good book on the subject is Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster.

Offering a shoulder to your friend and support in a difficult time is good.

BUT… I think it is unwise to get in the middle of your friend’s marriage difficulties, especially “scheduling a meeting” with the wife and “getting her side”.

So, my additional insight would be to stay out of it.


thank you all for the advice.

I have not even begun to advise him on annulments, that is up to him to decide, i just wanted to be ready with some info should he ask. he doesn’t really have a priest at this time. he had been going to the Lutheran church with her since they were married.

If one good thing comes of this, i think it will be that he comes back to the Catholic church.

I am probably being selfish in this whole deal when it comes to meeting with her, but we had a very good friendship before they started dating (i helped nudge them a long to start dating, so maybe i feel responsible to them both). he knows fully what i am doing as well, if he told me not to meet with her, i would not meet.

I am not trying to get into the middle of them, but there is a good chance this will be the last time i talk to her if she continues down the path she is on. she is making very rash decisions and not acting like herself. She has shut out many of her old friends for new ones who think the way she is acting now is the way she has always been. I am truly concerned about her well being. that is why i want to remain her friend.

does that make sense? I don’t think i described my feelings very well, i am computer guy, i ain’t so good with words :slight_smile: .

Thanks again for your insight.



Lack of form isn’t always a given. Always have to check for dispensations. In your description, I see potential for defects of consent (she’s insane, in plain words, which means it needs to be checked whether she wasn’t already when they were marrying - that is, in the unlikely event there’s no lack of form). Depending on more details, simulation might be the case. However, that’s just the little facts we have. The tribunal will have the last say.

As for lack of form not being a nullity verdict, that’s basically a simplified proceeding, but still within the scope of nullity suits.


I am sorry that your friend’s wife is behaving so erratically. That must be very painful to watch.

Sadly, her apparent mental illness may be grounds for annulment. While the Church presumes non-Catholic marriages to be valid, a valid marriage requires consent. Someone suffering from certain types of mental disorders (you mentioned bi-polar) may not have been able to give proper consent.

However, at this time, I would help your friend. Do not worry about annulment, worry about trying to preserve the marriage. I do not think you are getting in the middle of things. Meeting with your friend’s wife is an important step.

Have you heard of Retrovaille? (pronounced retrovai) They are a group that helps failing marriages. Take a look. Consider suggesting this to your friend.

May God bless you for your faithful friendship.


Thank you for the reply, and i would love to help them remain married, but right now, she doesn’t even want to contemplate it. I know he would go to a retreat weekend in a second if she was willing, but the problem is, she is not. Perhaps that will change down the road, i pray that it does every night.

Thank you everyone for you thoughtful responses. I wish i could do more for them, but i think praying and listening to my friends is pretty much all i can do right now… is it incredibly frustrating.

Thanks again


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