Hypothetical Marriage/Annulment Question

So a hypothetical scenario:

A young Catholic man and woman marry in a Catholic Church under presumably valid circumstances. Yet one or both of the spouses have maturity or consent issues that could be grounds for an annulment.

However, if these are indeed grounds for annulment, it means that no marriage ever existed. So would such a couple, if they indeed mature and stay truly committed, be without the sacramental grace of marriage. Or could the marriage validate itself if neither ever attempted to divorce or begin annulment proceedings. Remember, the marriage was presumed valid, so it probably wouldn’t occur to them that they need a new marriage ceremony.

I’m fairly familiar with the basic theology of marriages :slight_smile: and annulments :(, so I’m interested in the subtle details regard this or similar situations :o

Essentially they would implicitly validate the marriage through their matured implied consent.

I believe that the Church says that the presumption is always that it is a sacramental marriage.

That being said, in the case you mentioned, I believe that the Lord would supply the necessary graces anyway due to the obedience of the couple to His teachings (through the Church).

This sounds like a question for a Canon Lawyer to me.

Interesting question. I have always heard that the validity of a marriage is determined as of the time the wedding takes place, and that events subsequent to the time the wedding takes place have no effect on it’s validity. But you’re suggesting that the actions of the couple may allow an invalid marriage to become valid. Using this same logic, can a valid marriage become invalid due to the actions of the couple?

No, the marriage is not validated at the time of marriage because you cannot consummate it during the wedding, for obvious reasons.

A subsequent action (convalidation, increased level of maturity with continued consent, etc) can change the invalid to valid but the valid cannot be rendered invalid by a subsequent action.

Consummation does not make a marriage valid, it makes a valid marriage indissoluble.

Hello runningdude,

The applicable canon is: "Can. 1159 §1. A marriage which is invalid because of a defect of consent is convalidated if the party who did not consent now consents, provided that the consent given by the other party perseveres.

§2. If the defect of consent cannot be proven, it is sufficient that the party who did not consent gives consent privately and in secret.

§3. If the defect of consent can be proven, the consent must be given in canonical form."

Two remarks: the marriage can’t “validate itself”–the party/parties would need to consent, whether privately or publicly. Also, even if the party/parties are unaware of possible invalidity, they can still give proper consent by the intentions behind their actions–an implicit consent, as pointed to by “NewEnglandPries.”


That was according to the priest in my last Catechist training. Or maybe I understood him wrong? He was explaining it in a very legalistic way.

Phemie is correct.

A invalid marriage is not made valid by consummation.
A valid marriage can be dissolved if it is not consummated.
A valid marriage when consummated can never be dissolved.

they are still married, no divorce, the question of annulment and validity does not even arise at this point so should not even be entertained.

No they do not necessarily need a “new marriage ceremony.” If their were deficiencies in maturity, consent etc. at the time vows were exchanged the couple can supply them over time by renewing their mutual consent in each day of marriage, through their own spiritual growth etc. They cannot obviously change natural law defects but some can be naturally supplied as the marriage grows and strengthens.

Thank you all, especially dans0622 providing the canon law!

I wondered if the Church addressed such a scenery. Over the centuries, it seems they addressed everything!

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