Have you ever known a petition for marriage annulment to be denied?

Over the years I probably have known 20 unrelated people who have had their petitions for annulment approved, yet I don’t know anyone who had their petition for nullity denied.

How often are petitions denied?

we have 3 recent or ongoing threads asking about the percentage annulment investigations which are successful. since most of us don’t have experiential knowledge of more than a handful of cases, our evidence won’t be of general value. why not do yourself a favor and jump into the threads that have presented evidence, but brace yourself with strong drink first. don’t know why this topic arouses such strong emotion, but it does.

Sorry, but I’m Baptist. :smiley:

okay, strong coffee okay? (unless you’re an Adventist or Mormon, I guess).
every year I deal with approx 20 families in various stages of marriage issues that result in eventual decisions on validity of a first marriage.

half are invalid due to lack of form (one partner was Catholic and did not obey Church laws on marriage).

about one quarter are invalid because either party had a previous marriage with civil divorce.

about 25% go to a formal canon law investigation which can take 6-24 months in this diocese (small staff, limited resources).
of those, and we are down to 5 cases from the original 20, 3 are found invalid within 6 months because the reasons and grounds are obvious and documented by testimony of witnesses, usually because one or both parties did not intend what the Church intends for the sacrament, could not and did not give valid consent, were married by force or convenience, or other readily proven grounds.

The other 2-3 take longer, because the case is complex, involves multiple previous marriages, witness hard to get whatever. Of those one will probably be declared null because it eventually is proven conditions at the time of marriage were against full proper consent. one or two will be declared valid, and a couple who has been counting on it will be disappointed and dismayed because they thought it was an automatic rubber stamp.

that is only my experience in the couple of parishes I work in, and I only see the beginning and end of the process, not the middle.

bottom line, until couples prepare properly for marriage and are properly disposed and give proper consent, which is not the case for the majority of couples who marry with at least outward attention to Catholic law, annulments will continue to be granted. Rx is better marriage preparation, better teaching on sex, marriage and family issues.

I’d imagine a percentage of people who WANT to petition for annulment would be advised by their priest or canon lawyer at first instance that they have not a shred of a case, and thus would probably not even bother to put in the paperwork.

That alone would skew the statistics, in other words the only ones who DO apply are the ones who are likely to be granted.

Good points. I also suspect that many Catholics who get a civil divorce don’t even bother with the annulment process. They are so removed from the Church that they don’t even discuss it with their priest.

My mother’s friend married a Muslim man who took her to the Mid-east and when she finally ran away from him, her uncle, the archbishop, told her that the annulment papers had been ready for her the day after she left. So, yea.

for those of you who are Baptist, do I have to explain the meaning of that very Catholic word?

As Lily M stated, the preliminary screening removes most cases which lack substantial proof.

I have been told, by some who work at the Tribunal, that if a decree cannot be granted the petitioner is advised to withdraw the case. If more evidence becomes available, it is easy to reopen a suspended case, but very difficult to reverse a negative judgement.

One of my good friends has been unable to obtain an annulment. Her petition was denied. She married again, not in the Church and before requesting an annulment of her first marriage and sometime later received a renewal of her faith. This caused her great agonies since she was unable to receive the Eucharist. She also was in a terrible state because every time she was intimate with her husband, she was committing a mortal sin.

She told me how she was having a hard time convincing her current husband to live chastely, as brother and sister. I assume she has been successful since she is now receiving the Eucharist and is our Sacristan, but it took years.

Just goes to show why you shouldn’t even date if you have not received an annulment. They aren’t automatic. Everything she told me about her first marriage seemed to meet the criteria for granting an annulment and she was quite taken aback when it was denied. Apparently, she couldn’t appeal either. Once it was denied, that was it.

My daughter’s Godmother’s annulment was approved as she was Catholic and was married in a civil ceremony.

Her second husband was twice denied an annulment. He and his ex were not Catholic when they were married. They were married in a Protestant church.

As a result of being denied the annulment, he was not able to convert to Catholicism. After his second attempt at getting a annulment, my daughter’s Godmother and her husband decided to leave the Catholic Church and are now attending a Presbyterian church.

This was after my daughter’s Godfather left the church after his second wife (he was a widower) refused to go through the annulment process because her religious beliefs allowed for divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery (her ex was an adulterer) and that, to her, an annulment made her grown children illegitimate (she was unwilling to accept the Catholic Church’s view on annulment and children).

sadly the previous post describes a common scenario, as people think annulment is somehow a right and a foregone conclusion, and simply do not understand the difference between divorce and annulment, and refuse to accept the Church’s definitions when the matter is explained. almost every year in RCIA there is at least one family affected in this way, and in almost every case at least part of the family leaves the Church or abandons plans to enter the Church. marriage issues are in fact the most common reason people delay or abandon RCIA/Confirmation preparation.

previous posters are also right in pointing out that most tribunals will strongly urge a petitioner drop a case that seems to have little chance of success, for reasons stated, so they don’t make the statistics. it should also be noted that it is not common but does happen that a decree may be overturned on appeal for various reasons

I want to be very careful when I say this because this subject is very touchy and gets people worked up.I’m not sure if my case is typical but my annulment was made to sound as a fore gone conclusion.So much so is that for a long time people were being married and bought into the church w/out the process being completed.In some cases w/out EVER being completed.Our RCIA class last year was told that our cases had to be completed before we were initiated.Our pastor and RCIA teacher was not happy about it.For the most part they don’t like to deny people coming into the church.Understandable but I think The Church needs to continue in the santity of marriage.I would hate for it to turn into how protestants approach marriage.It took a while but my annulment was affirmed last month and I’m just waiting for the final paperwork so my current marriage can be convalidated and then be officially brought in the church.

As for the issue of annulment statistics I think the divorce issue is what the real issue is.Again I want to be clear that this not how I think annulment work just some insight on maybe why people are getting the idea that annulments are a slam dunk.

I’ve seen negative verdicts in abundance in my canon law class.

However, naturally, as study material, they weren’t quite so new. Bear in mind many marriages are null because of lack of form. That’s something which skews statistics simply because the fact people didn’t care to have a church ceremony is different from allegations of coercion, fraud, error. Nothing depends on the judges in such a trial - they do not apply any judgement of their own. Canon form and minimal canon form (two witnesses, the absolute minimum) are set forth in the code of canon law and most cases are clear - unless perhaps the officiating priest lacked proper delegation, now that’s something more difficult to establish. At any rate, lack of form is a class of its own. :wink:

Decrees due to lack of canonical form do skew statistics. Unfortunate really, since it’s unnecessary to go to the Tribunal with those when they can be documented at the parish level. All that is required is the paperwork from the marriage showing clearly that the marriage took place outside the Catholic Church without the proper dispensation and that there was a subsequent divorce.

The Church holding Protestants to the Church’s definition of marriage is something I struggle with. They get married with a Protestant understanding of marriage, they get divorced with a Protestant understanding of marriage and then they get remarried with a Protestant understanding of marriage. Later, they come to understand and accept the Church’s definition of marriage, but are unable to change what they did when they had Protestant understanding of marriage. As a result, they are unable to enter the Church.

The sad thing is that frequently it is easier for a Catholic to get a divorce as any marriage outside the Church, with rare exceptions, is invalid due to form. However, for a Protestant the only marriages that are invalid due to form are civil and non-Christian.

I don’t know the percentages, but I know three personally that have been.

I just reread my post. I meant to use annulment rather than divorce in the quoted sentence.

I know somebody who did not get her annulment granted because she could not prove that her ex husband was gay. He hadn’t come out of the closet, and none of their witnesses knew this about him. It devastated her and shattered her, and she eventually changed to a protestant denomination.

I am in similar circumstances…my ex husband had a secret sex life that involved visiting swing clubs when he was supposedly away on business, among other things. None of my witnesses ever knew this side of him, nor did I. It was a complete shock to discover that he was doing this, and hiding it so well. I do have pictorial evidence of his escapades that I eventually discovered on his computer, but his lawyer is fighting to keep them out of the Tribunal’s hands. Needless to say, I’m worried that the Tribunal will rule that I must stay married to this man in the eyes of the Church because it comes down to the words of our witnesses.

How is the marriage itself invalid just because the husband is unfaithful?

Anyway, I heard that there were annulments given for the husband being too attached to his mother. So apparently they aren’t too hard to get.

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