If marriage is conferred by each other, why not annulment?

I understand the idea of marriage being sacred. But when abuse is an obvious issue, that endangers children and other spouse, why the delays in annulment? Especially since marriage is the one Sacrament that partners confer on each other.

It seems to me that an abusive or cheating partner is the one making the marriage invalid and violating the sacrament to the degree that the marriage is not viable. Why should innocent children and partners suffer through “saving” a marriage that is so violated?

Dear friend,

People cannot make a valid marriage invalid—no matter how badly they behave. If a marriage is valid to begin with, it will remain so until the death of one of the spouses. An annulment doesn’t make a valid marriage invalid. It reveals that fact that an essential element to the marriage was missing at the time of the wedding. This process requires an objectivity for which the persons involved are incapable.

If there is abuse of a spouse and/or children, the spouse needs to separate from the abuser for the protection of the innocent. One doesn’t have to wait for an annulment to accomplish this. Besides, as stated about, an annulment has to do with the circumstances present at before the beginning of the marriage and not about whatever happens later.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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