How often are annulments denied?


#1

Does anyone know how often an annulment is NOT granted after requested? I got to thinking about this and I realized that I have seen no posts or info anywhere from anyone who was denied an annulment by the church after requesting one. Really curious about this one…Input appreciated!
KB


#2

according to the deacon who is the liaison with the marriage tribunal for our deanery (group of several local parishes) about 40 percent of cases that must go through the full investigation and judgement, and appeal, of the process are denied.

However, the majority of cases that are referred to diocesan authorities are not in fact valid because of easily detected problems, usually defect of form (Catholic married in civil ceremony or married to a divorced person) and do not need the full tribunal process for judgement.


#3

Thanks for your reply. I was wondering if it ever really happened.

KB


#4

Can anybody deepen my understanding of the annulement process? I am a convert and the ONLY Catholic in my family. Until now. My mother and sister both have decided to convert and are attending RCIA. I am thier sponser and am attending w/them. However… My sister (who if you knew her past, would be amazed that she has arrived at this point), was married at 18 for two years to a Catholic. She was married in the church. He went off and married someone else as well and when she found out and got upset (how dare she!!) he left her for the other wife. But of course she was the first so her marriage was valid. Fast forward 10 years. She remarries and has a child. Now 14 years later she wants to become Catholic. OK, her annulement is understandable and we knew we would have to tackle this. Here is where our frustration sets in. They woman my sis had to meet with to handle this told her that her present husband must also get an annulement from his first wife. He has absolutely NO interest WHATSOEVER in Catholicism. He actually (miraculously if you knew him) agrees to do this for her. Now the woman tells my sis that she must meet personally w/her hubby for approx. two hours because she needs to delve deeply into his life BEFORE his first marriage. He was willing to fill out the paperwork but will not meet w/this woman to get into the details of his whole life from before this marriage. I thought that they were only concerned w/the marriage itself and why you divorced etc… By the way he married a non Catholic (as he is also) but was married at her house by a Lutheran minister. I am just wanting this to happen as painlessly as possible for my sisters sake. I know there are rules and you can’t be in an irregular marriage but then I think… We can’t be expected to live our whole lives as if we KNOW we are going to be a Catholic someday. If Jesus was here on earth right now would he turn my sister away because she did not conduct herself like a Catholic when she had no idea she even would ever want to be a Catholic?


#5

nobody is turning anybody away. The Catholic Church recognizes every marriage as valid until proven otherwise. Not to recognize marriages of non-Catholics would be the real insult. In order to receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation the individual must be in a state of grace. Someone who is living with a person outside valid marriage is objectively not in a state of grace. (only the priest can judge the subjective state of the person’s soul). Therefore any marriage situation must be resolved, and to do that requires investigation. That is why each diocese has a marriage tribunal to investigate and judge the validity of the bond.

Anyone who has found that the Catholic Church teaches the fullness of truth and wishes to become Catholic has to accept all that teaching, including teaching on marriage. I doubt such an interview would be required and why a laywoman is in charge of the proceedings in the first place. I am suspicious that this person is representing the marriage tribunal of the diocese.

Every marriage situation is unique and as your story demonstrates can get complicated so the only reliable answer in a given case is for the pastor to interview the couple and make a referral to the marriage tribunal of the diocese. No face-to-face confrontation with the ex is required in that process, but each does have to answer a detailed questionnaire. The purpose is to ascertain the circumstances at the time of the marriage to determine if full consent was present or even possible. It is not about what happened during the marriage.

We can only counsel patience while this is resolved and pray for your sister. Everyone should conduct themselves with honor and fidelity in marriage, not just prospective Catholics, and if they did the problem would not arise, and people would not be victimized as your sister has been.


#6

Dear Mom of many,
The red tape type scenario that you describe does sound awfully complex and agonizing. What a drag. It does sound legalistic and intimidating having to navigate what seems to be an obstacle course of unpleasant bureaucratic roadblocks. I would be frustrated as well. What you say makes sense about it being discouraging instead of welcoming. It’s kind of difficult to expect people to throw their whole lives away in order to enter the Church. I just don’t know what the answer is. I would like to remarry again eventually and I hope that any man I meet won’t have these types of encumberances. It sounds like a nightmare, at least it would be to me because I get overwhelmed by stuff like that easily.


#7

HSmomofmany,
I don’t know how many are denied but I do know some are denied. The only ones I have personally known about were very long Catholic marriages that there was no defect of form and no witness that prior to the marriage there was reason to doubt consent.

What this woman is very tactlessly try to say is this: The most important moment in determining validity of marriage is the moment of consent. By digging into sister’s hubby’s past it might be learned that there was no ability to give consent or some other much more basic problem.

What matters in decree of nullity isn’t actually what fell apart in the marriage. The part that matters is the state they were in entering the marriage. Some problems can be very obvious and so require much smaller forms and much less investigation.

‘Drunk groom, pregnant bride, shotgun father’ would very likely be a pretty short investigation. While a marriage like this might survive and never be examined for nullity, most would generally fail for obvious reasons. The more reasons there are for nullity, makes the process shorter and easier.

Short answer: nullity is about going into marriage divorce is about coming out of it. Since the Church teaches that only death ends a marriage then sister’s hubby is considered still possibly married. Sister cannot even be received in the Church in that state. DS’s god-mother faced that. Her hubby was not thrilled but did it anyway.


#8

[quote=spiritblows]Dear Mom of many,
The red tape type scenario that you describe does sound awfully complex and agonizing. What a drag. It does sound legalistic and intimidating having to navigate what seems to be an obstacle course of unpleasant bureaucratic roadblocks. I .
[/quote]

with all due respect the roadblocks were erected by the individuals who married and then for whatever reason failed to keep their vows and tried to end their marriage through civil divorce. Because Jesus did not recognized divorce and taught that marriage is for life, so does the Catholic Church. Anyone who wishes to join this Church will have to understand and accept that unlike most Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church upholds Christ’s fundamental teachings.

The Church does, out of compassion, provide a forum for investigating and judging if that previous marriage was in fact valid, that is, if both parties were able to and did fully consent, and that no barriers in natural or canon law were present at the time of the marriage contract. The Church in its wisdom recognizes that especially in modern society when so few are properly educated about the real nature of man, woman, marriage and family that sometimes full consent is lacking, and therefore no previous marriage exists. the annulment process is a way to dismantle roadblocks, not intended to set up more.

by the way, the annulment process can be an immense source of healing for those who have left troubled marriages that never should have been attempted in the first place, and many persons who request an annulment because they are entering the Church find this process while difficult, to be a great source of grace.


#9

[quote=Heart Of Mary]Does anyone know how often an annulment is NOT granted after requested? I got to thinking about this and I realized that I have seen no posts or info anywhere from anyone who was denied an annulment by the church after requesting one. Really curious about this one…Input appreciated!
KB
[/quote]

I was told, by a member of the Tribunal, that if there is insufficient evidence to warrant an decree of nullity Tribunal will usually recommend that the case be withdrawn until further evidence can be submitted rather than give a decision against nullity. This makes it easier to reopen the case if further evidence is forthcoming.

Since many cases are abandoned for various reasons, e.g. a planned second marriage does not go through, it is not possible to determine how many are not granted for lack of sufficient evidence. They just all pile up together in a cold case file.


#10

[quote=HSmomofmany]Can anybody deepen my understanding of the annulement process? I thought that they were only concerned w/the marriage itself and why you divorced etc… By the way he married a non Catholic (as he is also) but was married at her house by a Lutheran minister.
[/quote]

I highly recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It will give you the background and understanding you seek

The tribunal must know about the person before and at the time of their marriage to determine if they have a valid Sacramental marraige.

The book will help you understand the entire process and theology behind it.


#11

[quote=HSmomofmany]Now the woman tells my sis that she must meet personally w/her hubby for approx. two hours because she needs to delve deeply into his life BEFORE his first marriage.
[/quote]

IF it were me, and it’s not, I would suggest to my sister and brother-in-law that perhaps they talk with their pastor regarding all this. This seems “off” although not beyond the realm of possibility. Each diocese handles this in their own way within the rules. But sometimes, not always, but sometimes, people in charge of such activities put their own rules on top of policy, creating hurt feelings and too often a bad image of whatever work is being done (I know a lot of poor DREs who get beat up because ONE in a certain deanery makes up her own rules that don’t begin to represent diocese policy).

I know in my case, I filled out the paperwork, but had a hard time getting my first pastor to sign the paperwork. He simply didn’t believe in the anullment process (he was also a bit crabby, had trouble with English, and tried to circumvent diocese policy with his own brand of Catholicism). I changed parishes, this being merely the climax of the matter. My new pastor had no trouble signing the paperwork.

So- they need to ask some questions of somebody other than this woman who apparently pushes paper!!!

And good for you for setting such a good example that your mom and sister want to come home, too!:thumbsup:


#12

We went through the annulment process a few years ago. We filled out papers, wrote our “stories”. I met with someone in our parish who represented the tribunal, helped us with the paperwork. She made the contact to the tribunal for us and stayed with us all through the year-long process.

My ex lived in another state and did not reply to any of the letters sent to him. He did not cooperate in any way. My “civil” husband had to go through the annulment process as well. His ex DID answer her mail, with a vengence. There was no doubt that our marriages qualified to be nulled. Once our marriages were declared null in the Diocese, all the paperwork was sent on to the Arch-diocese to be reviewed for error or confirmed. All through the process, we were kept informed of the progress. Our “laison” was wonderfully understanding when my nerves were a bit frayed.

Only a month after our marriage was blessed, my ex was found deceased in his apartment. At first I was a little upset, I would not have had to go through all that I did to null the marriage. However, I can see that the process helped me rid myself of all that baggage, guilt, pain that I carried for so many years. It was a blessing!!!

Each diocese seems to handle the annulment process a little differently. The “cost” for us was nominal and we were told that the ability to pay (or not) could not be considered in granting or not granting the decree. The “suggested” donation varies from Diocese to Diocese, but can be waived if someone cannot afford to pay.

There is a lot of info on the internet concerning anulments and available from your parish. Do not be afraid!!

Love and peace
Mom of 5


#13

Add on to my previous post.

I asked how often the annulment is denied and was told there is no clear cut answer…some never finish the process out of frustration or any of a hundred reasons. Our laison felt that of those that go to completion, 2/3 were granted nulity. She said that it is her opinion that the person seeking the annulment knows “in their heart” whether the marriage qualifies for the annulment.

Love and peace


#14

[quote=Mom of 5] . . .

. However, I can see that the process helped me rid myself of all that baggage, guilt, pain that I carried for so many years. It was a blessing!!!

. . .

[/quote]

In running our RCIA program I have occasion to talk with many who have gone through the process. Many mention gratitude for the healing they received in the process. It was a difficult process, but at the end they were happy they did it.


#15

[quote=HSmomofmany] . . .They woman my sis had to meet with to handle this told her that her present husband must also get an annulement from his first wife. He has absolutely NO interest WHATSOEVER in Catholicism. He actually (miraculously if you knew him) agrees to do this for her. Now the woman tells my sis that she must meet personally w/her hubby for approx. two hours because she needs to delve deeply into his life BEFORE his first marriage…
[/quote]

As noted by others, the Church regards his previous marriage as valid until proven otherwise. The lady needs to find a grounds to request a Decree of Nullity for him, and it must derive from conditions existing at the time of that marriage. She can get a lot from paperwork, but often a critical factor will come out in one-on-one discussion.

It sounds like a fishing expedition because it is. Let’s pray that she catches a good sized fish for you.

:wink:


#16

[quote=1ke]I highly recommend the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It will give you the background and understanding you seek

The tribunal must know about the person before and at the time of their marriage to determine if they have a valid Sacramental marraige.

The book will help you understand the entire process and theology behind it.
[/quote]

Thank you for the referral. I will find the book and have my sister and brother-in-law read it as well.


#17

I am so happy to see that someone else has gone through this. My husband and I just turned in our first application for annulment through the marriage Tribunal. We just recently decided to convert to Catholicism and both of us have been married before. We have been together for 23 years and when we first decided to convert, it never once occurred to us that this would be an issue. It was enough of a miracle that staunch Protestants like we are would even consider that the Catholic Church could be an option. :slight_smile:

Naturally, this has been a huge stumblingblock, but we filled out the initial forms. Now, we have found out some other things which are a huge problem. First, no one who knew anything about the situation in my first marriage is alive anymore. In short, I have no witnesses who could testify to anything other than the fact that they know I got married. Secondly, I found out when divorcing my first husband that my marriage license was not certified or legal in the first place.

In the case of my husband, he has some family witnesses who could testify about most anything—if they WOULD. The family is very anti-Catholic and will refuse to fill out any papers or cooperate in any way which would enable my husband to convert!

Now we are both quite concerned that this will ever happen. We have been told by our local counselor that we both have some conditions in which could probably enable the annulment. We simply lack the means to provide the needed paperwork for the investigation.

It is very difficult to finally have such a desire and longing to convert, and having been accepted as Christians for many years in our former church – and now face the humility of having to dig up the past and upset so many family members in the process. Together, we raised 8 kids, all of whom have no understanding of Catholicism whatsover and will wonder why we don’t simply accept that Christ has forgiven our sins. We are the only family they have known for 23 years. In our zeal and enthusiasm, we had dreams of being such lights that some in our families would be open to see the truth about the church. Now, it is starting to look like the whole Tribunal process is only going to be yet another opportunity for our anti-Catholic families to have ill feelings for the Catholic Church.

We are not about to give up at this point, because we are told we have former marriages which most probably would qualify for nullification-- except for the problems stated above.

Does anyone know what people who have no witnesses, or none who will cooperate, do? And does anyone know what happens if one spouse’s marriage qualifies for nullification and the other one does not? We are starting to panic a little. We long to be able to partake of the Eucharist since Christ placed the importance on it that He did.


#18

Dear Kaysette,
That sounds awful. Yes, there are a lot of complexities which you mention that really make the whole thing seem like a bureaucratic nightmare! My heart goes out to you. It gets very complicated when you consider the many factors that you mention. Wow, I admire your perserverence. I see what you mean, though, that this adds fuel to those who already have the Church pegged as being too legalistic. They must really wonder about all this and think it’s crazy and proves everything they’ve always thought about the Church.

God Bless you!


#19

Thanks for posting. Yes, when we decided we had to see a priest and convert, this was something that didn’t occur to us. Right now, we just don’t know what will happen, but it is very sad to us if they will not allow us to be Catholic just because we have no witnesses. Oh well, we will just wait until they send us the next batch of paperwork and until then, we are praying a whole lot.

Funny thing about it is that we were both taught that the RCC charges money to forgive people and today we were wondering what our families and friends would say if they knew that this was costing us to go through this process.:slight_smile: That part doesn’t bother us much, because we have studied enough and understand “why”, in this case. Many of the people where we live now (we live in a different state than we did when all this took place in our pasts) don’t even know we were both married before as kids. Not to mention that this is really stirring up some things we had thought “were under the blood” a very long time ago.

The main thing we care about is that we can partake of the Eurcharist before we die…and that this whole process will not turn our children and grandchildren off so badly that they will never consider the Catholic Church. Without this obstacle, we actually had quite a few people we felt would actually be open to learning more about the Catholic Church simply because people like US would ever consider it.


#20

Kaysette,

I had no witnesses alive or any that I could find. My husband had only his brother and his wife. The Tribunal allowed letters from my sister and niece, both who knew me very well although not directly involved in my pre-marital and early marriage situation. I wrote a very long detailed history of my life before I met and married my husband then into the marriage. The Tribunal accepted our witnesses. Do not give up. I will bet a hot-fudge sundae that your Tribunal will accept all that you have to offer to verify the nulity of your marriages.

God Bless,

Love and peace

Mom of 5


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