Marriage Annulment and the Legitimacy of Children


#1

Hi,

My Muslim friend asked this question below based on various info, also below, that i shared with him. It seems an annulment doesn't affect the legitimacy of children, but only the spiritual aspects of the marriage. Please better help my friend and I understand. It seems I might be a little unclear myself.

Please also define what a legitimate child means before the eyes of God and before the eyes of the state. I think the latter is CONCEIVED? or BORN? in or out of wedlock? And all children are legitimate before God, since even as a man and a woman partake in the creation of a child out of wedlock (willingly or unwilling, in the case of rape), it is only because God willed that child into creation that the child exists. Correct?

Some comments from our discussion:

**ME: **It was while the parents had children during what they thought was a valid sacramental marriage before God that matters.

Remember, these aren't official words from official Church documents that I am sharing. I read a part? of a Canon document, but it didn't make too much sense to me. It is for Catholic Church Canon Lawyers to interpret.
**
FRIEND:** But Church doesnt say it was a marriage before & now its finished.
The Church says that marriage NEVER happened ! ! !

You CANT say both ! ! !
Either they were married at some point when they had kids so those kids cud be legal but if you say that marriage NEVER happened, then those kids can NEVER be legal as well ! ! !

"An annulment does not render children of the marriage illegitimate. They were born within a legal and putative (i.e., presumed valid) marriage. An annulment is a determination of the spiritual status of the marriage and the freedom of the spouses to marry in the Church. It does not in any way affect the children's legitimacy."-forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=17915

"Are My Children Illegitimate?:
"Are My Children Illegitimate If The Marriage Is Annulled, Father?"

I don't get asked this question very often because many people assume that they will be deemed so. This is not true! If one was ignorant of the impediment that was identified in an annulment the kids are considered legitimate by the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, if you did not know that there was something wrong with your previous marriage that would render it invalid, the offspring of that marriage are legitimate by Rome's reckoning. I submit that many (if not, most) of the people that marry believe that their marriage is perfectly valid. By Roman standards there are eleven (II) conditions or "impediments" that make a marriage invalid.

... Roman Cannon 1060

There may be many marriages that are invalid and the couple simply is not aware of it. Rome will assume that the marriage is valid unless it is proven to be otherwise..•. How does one prove that a marriage is invalid? Establish that there was an impediment."-catholicannulment.us/are_my_children_illegitimate.html


#2

[quote="GodHeals, post:1, topic:313052"]
Hi,

My Muslim friend asked this question below based on various info, also below, that i shared with him. It seems an annulment doesn't affect the legitimacy of children, but only the spiritual aspects of the marriage. Please better help my friend and I understand. It seems I might be a little unclear myself.

Please also define what a legitimate child means before the eyes of God and before the eyes of the state. I think the latter is CONCEIVED? or BORN? in or out of wedlock? And all children are legitimate before God, since even as a man and a woman partake in the creation of a child out of wedlock (willingly or unwilling, in the case of rape), it is only because God willed that child into creation that the child exists. Correct?

Some comments from our discussion:

[/quote]

My understanding is that "illegitimate" or "legitimate" are legal terms for the state and not the Church and has no impact on the status of the child as he/she pertains to the family or to God. All children born or not, no matter what the circumstances, are true children of God.


#3

Please contact a priest. That will provide a sure answer.

Peace,
Ed


#4

[quote="GodHeals, post:1, topic:313052"]
Hi,

My Muslim friend asked this question below based on various info, also below, that i shared with him. It seems an annulment doesn't affect the legitimacy of children, but only the spiritual aspects of the marriage. Please better help my friend and I understand. It seems I might be a little unclear myself.

Please also define what a legitimate child means before the eyes of God and before the eyes of the state. I think the latter is CONCEIVED? or BORN? in or out of wedlock? And all children are legitimate before God, since even as a man and a woman partake in the creation of a child out of wedlock (willingly or unwilling, in the case of rape), it is only because God willed that child into creation that the child exists. Correct?

Some comments from our discussion:

[/quote]

The logic to follow is simple.

  1. Marriage is always presumed to be valid unless proven otherwise.
  2. An invalid marriage that has not been proven to be invalid is called a putative marriage. This ceases when both parties become aware of the invalidity or it is decreed null by the tribunal.
  3. Children born of a valid or putative marriage are considered legitimate.

Therefore: if a marriage is annulled, that means the children were born within a putative marriage, and there therefore legitimate.


#5

[quote="GodHeals, post:1, topic:313052"]

Please also define what a legitimate child means before the eyes of God and before the eyes of the state.

[/quote]

Legitimacy is a legal term. In various times in the Church legitimacy or illegitimacy gave or restricted certain privileges-- such as entering religious life. Currently there are no canon law restrictions based on legitimacy.

In civil law, the effects of legitimacy/illegitimacy would vary by state.

[quote="GodHeals, post:1, topic:313052"]
And all children are legitimate before God, since even as a man and a woman partake in the creation of a child out of wedlock (willingly or unwilling, in the case of rape), it is only because God willed that child into creation that the child exists. Correct?

[/quote]

No. Out of wedlock pregnancies are a natural consequence of fornication-- God does not will the child into existence. God particpates by creating our souls, but it is the free will act of the parents that bring forth the child in procreation.

Legitimacy is a legal term. Not a theological term.


#6

The following applies to a Catholic.

"Putative Marriage: An invalid marriage which has been celebrated in good faith by at least one of the parties. Marriages which are invalid due to a lack of canonical form are not considered putative. C. & C. 1985, 746"

From: Dissolution and Annulment of Marriage by the Catholic Church by Eileen F. Stuart, p. xvi.

Latin Canon Law:

Canon 1137 Children who are conceived or born of a valid or of a putative marriage are legitimate.
Canon 1138.1 The father is he who is identified by a lawful marriage, unless by clear arguments the contrary is proven.
Canon 1138.2 Children are presumed legitimate who are born at least 180 days after the date the marriage was celebrated, or within 300 days from the date of the dissolution of conjugal life.
Canon 1139 Illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their parents, whether valid or putative, or by a rescript of the Holy See.


#7

[quote="1ke, post:5, topic:313052"]
Legitimacy is a legal term.

Currently there are no canon law restrictions based on legitimacy.

God does not will the child into existence.

[/quote]

Okay, a legal term, but why used to determine if okay to be a religious or Priest? They would figure illegitimate children might have bad upbringing or something that might eventually impact the person?

Well, God would permissively will the child into creation. Otherwise, the child wouldn't have a soul and exist. But i think you meant not willingly ordained that child into creation. BUT I AM NOT SO SURE... That doesn't sound right since we are all equal before God. I might be proud to think i am willing ordained by God and someone else was permissively ordained into creation.. like the latter is lesser of a person or loved less. Thoughts?


#8

[quote="Vico, post:6, topic:313052"]
The following applies to a Catholic.

"Putative Marriage: An invalid marriage which has been celebrated in good faith by at least one of the parties. Marriages which are invalid due to a lack of canonical form are not considered putative. C. & C. 1985, 746"

From: Dissolution and Annulment of Marriage by the Catholic Church by Eileen F. Stuart, p. xvi.

Latin Canon Law:

Canon 1137 Children who are conceived or born of a valid or of a putative marriage are legitimate.
Canon 1138.1 The father is he who is identified by a lawful marriage, unless by clear arguments the contrary is proven.
Canon 1138.2 Children are presumed legitimate who are born at least 180 days after the date the marriage was celebrated, or within 300 days from the date of the dissolution of conjugal life.
Canon 1139 Illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their parents, whether valid or putative, or by a rescript of the Holy See.

[/quote]

Thank you I have a hard time understanding this canon law... maybe someone else with more knowledge can interpret it?

These canon laws would make it seem that legitimacy isn't only based on civil law, but church canon law and therefore children can be illegitimate before the Church and God?


#9

[quote="GodHeals, post:7, topic:313052"]
Okay, a legal term, but why used to determine if okay to be a religious or Priest? They would figure illegitimate children might have bad upbringing or something that might eventually impact the person?

[/quote]

Because canon law is the legal system of the Church, and therefore uses a lot of terminology which was later adopted by civil law.

[quote="GodHeals, post:7, topic:313052"]
Well, God would permissively will the child into creation. Otherwise, the child wouldn't have a soul and exist. But i think you meant not willingly ordained that child into creation. BUT I AM NOT SO SURE... That doesn't sound right since we are all equal before God. I might be proud to think i am willing ordained by God and someone else was permissively ordained into creation.. like the latter is lesser of a person or loved less. Thoughts?

[/quote]

We are all permissively willed. Our parents had free will in cooperating or not cooperating with God in the marital embrace.


#10

[quote="GodHeals, post:8, topic:313052"]
These canon laws would make it seem that legitimacy isn't only based on civil law, but church canon law

[/quote]

Much modern civil law is based on canon law, which predates it. Much canon law was based on Roman law.

[quote="GodHeals, post:8, topic:313052"]

and therefore children can be illegitimate before the Church and God?

[/quote]

What sort of meaning are you applying to illegitimate? It means born outside of wedlock. It is a fact. I do not understand what the issue is. You are either born of parents married to each other, or you are not.


#11

[quote="GodHeals, post:8, topic:313052"]
Thank you I have a hard time understanding this canon law... maybe someone else with more knowledge can interpret it?

These canon laws would make it seem that legitimacy isn't only based on civil law, but church canon law and therefore children can be illegitimate before the Church and God?

[/quote]

It means Children are legitimate who are conceived or born (at least 180 days after the date the marriage was celebrated, or within 300 days from the date of separation) by a Catholic of a valid or presumed valid marriage, but not where there is a lack of canonical form. Lack of canonical form is a marriage celebrated without the approval of the Catholic Church, such as a civil marriage, unless a retroactive convalidation was given.


#12

Ok. Reading this has me super curious now. There is ALWAYS a reason why things are written into any law. ALWAYS.
So hypothetically speaking, Johnny walks up to a group of people after Mass who happen to be a Bishop and a Cardinal and says, "Hi, I'm Johnny. My parents concieved me out of wedlock. They never got married. Blah blah blah." What CAN'T he do in the Catholic Church?


#13

[quote="KendraDZ1902, post:12, topic:313052"]
Ok. Reading this has me super curious now. There is ALWAYS a reason why things are written into any law. ALWAYS.
So hypothetically speaking, Johnny walks up to a group of people after Mass who happen to be a Bishop and a Cardinal and says, "Hi, I'm Johnny. My parents concieved me out of wedlock. They never got married. Blah blah blah." What CAN'T he do in the Catholic Church?

[/quote]

The fact that Johnny"s parents were not married does not affect what he can do in th Church, e.g. if he is called to the priesthood he can go to seminary, etc.

I wanted to just say "There's nothing he can't do" but that sounds like a line from a musical or something.


#14

[quote="KendraDZ1902, post:12, topic:313052"]
So hypothetically speaking, Johnny walks up to a group of people after Mass who happen to be a Bishop and a Cardinal and says, "Hi, I'm Johnny. My parents concieved me out of wedlock. They never got married. Blah blah blah." What CAN'T he do in the Catholic Church?

[/quote]

Excellent question. I wish I had a good answer. We know that illegitimacy was once an impediment to Holy Orders, but is not now. It may be that some countries recognize the Church's assessment of legitimacy in regard to the country's civil laws on inheritance, etc.

Within the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, the words "legitimate" and "illegitimate" are not used at all in the specific sense we are discussing. Not sure if they have other, equivalent terminology, but I suspect these matters are left to each church sui iuris to decide for itself.

Within the Latin Code of Canon Law, the canons which use those terms include 1137-1140 posted by Vico in #6, as well as Canon 1091:

§1. In the direct line of consanguinity marriage is invalid between all ancestors and descendants, both legitimate and natural.

In spite of that canon, I see no canonical effect where there is any distinction between legitimate children, legitimated children, and illegitimate children. Not all canonical effects are contained within the Code of Canon Law per se, but I don't see any good answer for why these canons are there taking up space on the page.


#15

[quote="1ke, post:10, topic:313052"]
Much modern civil law is based on canon law, which predates it. Much canon law was based on Roman law.

What sort of meaning are you applying to illegitimate? It means born outside of wedlock. It is a fact. I do not understand what the issue is. You are either born of parents married to each other, or you are not.

[/quote]

Is there such a word within Church Law as Legitimate or Illegitimate children, based on a child born in or out of wedlock, or is that only a civil law term? I am assuming this would be a different situation for those annulled?


#16

This is for baptized Catholics getting married in civil law outside the Church or all people getting married outside the Church? Not sure what convalidation means…


#17

[quote="GodHeals, post:7, topic:313052"]
Okay, a legal term, but why used to determine if okay to be a religious or Priest? They would figure illegitimate children might have bad upbringing or something that might eventually impact the person?

[/quote]

I think that may have been part of it, and with at least some good reason - an illegitimate child encountered challenges not faced by the average legitimate child. On the other hand, one could easily argue that overcoming that to pursue a call to the priesthood might provide an even greater witness to the faith. But then we hit what I believe were more important reasons the Church had such rules.

First, the Church was placed among men, in the world. If there is strong opinion within the culture against those who are illegitimate, and doubt and suspicion of their actions and motives, the leaders of the Church (being men of that time and place) are likely to share those views. They are also unlikely to take actions that would harm the Church by crossing those views.

Second, the Church instituted such rules not in order to punish the children, but to punish parents, and by that example discourage others from following this route. On this board, we often hear the refrain "What kind of message would that send?" if such-and-such a rule were to be changed. Here, the message the Church was trying to send by having this rule is clear.


#18

[quote="Digitonomy, post:14, topic:313052"]
but I don't see any good answer for why these canons are there taking up space on the page.

[/quote]

So there is not such a thing a legitimate or illegitimate children within the context of Church law? It seems there would be if born not within a correct time frame within an annulment or divorce? or out of wedlock? But then, as I commented before, we are all permissive children of God? Does that sound correct to you?


#19

[quote="GodHeals, post:15, topic:313052"]
Is there such a word within Church Law as Legitimate or Illegitimate children, based on a child born in or out of wedlock, or is that only a civil law term? I am assuming this would be a different situation for those annulled?

[/quote]

Here is a thread where some canons using the word "legitimate" in that way are listed.:p

But like I said, who knows why those canons are there. Maybe some of the commentaries on these canons discuss this, but I don't have any available to me at the moment.


#20

[quote="GodHeals, post:16, topic:313052"]
This is for baptized Catholics getting married in civil law outside the Church or all people getting married outside the Church? Not sure what convalidation means...

[/quote]

Only Catholics are bound to the Catholic canonical form of celebrating matrimony. Other Christians have their own valid form of celebration. I don't know what those others accept. For non-Christians, there is natural marriage.

Convalidation is making a matrimonial contract valid that had been null and void because of an impediment. The simple convalidation requires new consent and the retroactive convalidation uses the prior but still current consent.


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