Married in a civil ceremony for "business deal." Lack of Form annulment?


#1

Hello everyone,

I am Catholic, and currently engaged to a non-Catholic (who is discerning his conversion), that made a terrible mistake a few years ago by getting married in a civil ceremony to a woman for her citizenship. With that said, the marriage was nothing but a business agreement between the two parties, with no involvement between the two whatsoever.

Both are now extremely regretful and embarrassed of their decisions, and realize the seriousness of their decisions both morally and legally.

We both would like to be married in the Catholic Church, but have been told that he will first need an annulment before doing so. I have done a little research, and have found that the Lack of Form applies to their case (or so I believe). She is baptized Catholic and he is not, and were both married by a judge without any dispensations from any Catholic authority before doing so. I understand that the Church doesn't recognize their civil divorce, but have found some answers saying that a civil union is recognized, and others that say it isn't, so is an annulment even necessary in this case?

As we would like to be married as soon as possible and have this situation which has been haunting him for a while behind us, would anyone know if the Lack of Form applies in this case, and if so, any approximate time frame it would take to receive the declaration of nullity? Since she is the Catholic I understand that she would be the one to file, but does anyone have firsthand experience regarding the Lack of Form case of annulment? I'm praying that this is the situation, and we're both terrified that it could be another case which could take up to two years or more to finalize.

Any help, advice, and prayers are greatly appreciated! :)

Thank you!


#2

It sounds to me like you already have a decent grasp of the principles involved, and no one here can help you past that point. You need to speak with your priest and the diocesan marriage tribunal.

You are certainly in my prayers!


#3

Assuming we have the whole picture, it does seem to be a "Lack of Form" case since she, as a Catholic, is obligated to be married in the Church. And, even thought he is not Catholic at this time, an annulment is necessary before he is free to attempt marriage in the Church. "Lack of Form" cases are usually very quick and can be granted in a matter of weeks.


#4

They should get an annulment,


#5

[quote="aggieints2010, post:1, topic:327200"]
We both would like to be married in the Catholic Church, but have been told that he will first need an annulment before doing so. I have done a little research, and have found that the Lack of Form applies to their case (or so I believe). She is baptized Catholic and he is not, and were both married by a judge without any dispensations from any Catholic authority before doing so.

[/quote]

Yes, this is a lack of form case if the facts are as you have stated.

[quote="aggieints2010, post:1, topic:327200"]
so is an annulment even necessary in this case?

[/quote]

No. It is not a decree of nullity process. In the US and Canada, this is what is called an administrative case. Paperwork must be gathered and submitted to the diocesan tribunal. They simply review it to ensure it is all in order.

It usually takes a few weeks to a month (depends on how busy your tribunal is). This is a straightforward case-- file paperwork, declaration of freedom to marry forthcoming.

[quote="aggieints2010, post:1, topic:327200"]
would anyone know if the Lack of Form applies in this case, and if so, any approximate time frame it would take to receive the declaration of nullity?

[/quote]

It seems to, but you will have to make an appointment with your pastor. You will have to complete your premarital preparation anyway, and that is usually at least six months. The administrative lack of form paperwork will certainly take less time than your marriage preparation.

[quote="aggieints2010, post:1, topic:327200"]
Since she is the Catholic I understand that she would be the one to file, but does anyone have firsthand experience regarding the Lack of Form case of annulment?

[/quote]

Actually, he can file the paperwork. He will, of course, need her baptismal records in addition to the civil marriage license and divorce decree, so if she is cooperative then that makes it easier.

[quote="aggieints2010, post:1, topic:327200"]

I'm praying that this is the situation, and we're both terrified that it could be another case which could take up to two years or more to finalize.

[/quote]

Stop dealing in fear and start dealing in knowledge and facts. Simply make an appointment with your pastor.


#6

[quote="aggieints2010, post:1, topic:327200"]
Hello everyone,

I am Catholic, and currently engaged to a non-Catholic

(We both would like to be married in the Catholic Church, but have been told that he will first need an annulment before doing so. I have done a little research, and have found that the Lack of Form applies to their case ... so is an annulment even necessary in this case?

As we would like to be married as soon as possible and have this situation which has been haunting him for a while behind us, would anyone know if the Lack of Form applies in this case, and if so, any approximate time frame it would take to receive the declaration of nullity? Since she is the Catholic I understand that she would be the one to file,.....we're both terrified that it could be another case which could take up to two years or more to finalize.

[/quote]

Congratulations on your upcoming Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

First do not be terrified of the possible time frame, just take the first step.

Although the case, as you stated, should be very simple, think about someone who does need to deal with a longer time frame to be free to marry. Its okay if a couple does have to wait a long time as the Marriage Tribunal works to show that they are free to marry. In the end, there is a beautiful result: entering into a valid marriage united by God.

That first step involves calling your parish office and telling them that you wish to begin the process of filing with your fiancé for the declaration of nullity of his civil marriage. Someone will walk you through the steps. You and your fiancé will do your part and someone will be your link with the diocese. His ex-wife does not need to be the one asking for this. You two can begin the course of action.

In the case of marriages created where there is a Lack of Form, the case before the Diocese is usually very quick. Remember, its okay if it takes longer than you desire.

Your priest may want to wait until the paper work is completed from the Diocese stating that your fiancé is free to marry before he begins your marriage prep. Think of this as wise. How devastating it must be to a couple if the priest began to prepare a couple for marriage and they were not truly free to marry.

Trust the Church on each step. Do not be fearful. Do not worry about time frame.

On a side note; please discuss with your fiancé how much of his former marriage he wants shared. Of course he would share the entire truth with your priest, but he may not want you to share with all your friends and family that he was in a "business deal".

St. Nicholas - Patron Saint of Brides and Grooms ~ Pray for aggieints and her fiancé.


#7

I think this should be able to be taken care of on the grounds of the first marriage being defect of substantial form. Since you are Catholic and were married in a civil ceremony, and the marriage was not consummated, it shouldn't be too big a deal.

Talk to your pastor or the Tribunal ASAP.


#8

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