Hi I’m new to the site and I have a question that I hope someone can answer. I recently received my decree of Nullity from a previous marriage and am eternally grateful. However, my ex did not take the news well and has claimed that because of this, our children are bastards and need to have their names changed. My view is that they are still recognized through the civil marriage as being completely legitimate. Any one care to comment?

In Love


I don’t have the documentation handy, but I’m know you can search on this site and find it. The church still considers Children as legitimate after a decree of Nullity.


the children are legitimate, the decree of nullity has no effect on their status. the documentation for this has been posted many times here in similar discussions. your husband does have the right of appeal (as you do) as a recent highly publicized case has reminded us.


I will third this too… my ex tried the same thing…



Wow, your ex has some nutty ideas.

Canon 1061 §3. An invalid marriage is called putative if at least one party celebrated it in good faith, until both parties become certain of its nullity.

Can. 1137 The children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate.


Congratulations! Funny thing about my degree of nullity. It didn’t make my kids bastards. And it didn’t stop my ex from being a bastard either. :wink:

Ignore it. You took some power away from your ex spouse and that always causes a huge release of hot air and gas. They always find something else to fester on quickly.


Just tell him that nothing can make any human being illegitimate. What could be MORE legitimate than God’s greatest creation - people!! Sheesh - some folks’ kids - they will come up with anything when they get cheesed off! :rolleyes: :wink:

Congrats on your declaration coming through for you!



As 1ke said, and I’m no canon lawyer (perhaps you need a lawyer with a cannon instead?)

Declaration of nullity is not “retroactive” to the children, it only addresses the marriage. The children were born during the valid marriage and as such are of course legitimate from that union.

God bless you and your family during this difficult time.


Whoa - hold the phone here - there was NEVER a valid marriage, the Tribunal established that quite clearly by granting the declaration of nullity. Be very careful how you word things - it makes a tremendous difference.



The children were born during a time when the OP, in good concience, was in what they thought was a legitimate marriage so there is nothing about the Tribunal process that could make the children illigitimate.


The marriage was never valid or it couldn’t ever be dissolved once consummated, but the children are legitimate because there was good faith and no fornication. :slight_smile:


What a silly guy, the ex-putative-husband of yours. :wink: Who says illegitimate children can’t have the father’s name? Some people make it look like illegitimate children have only a mother but not a father. A man becomes the biological parent by impregnating the woman, not by being her husband. There is no reason that the children should have more rights to the mother’s name than the father’s.

Besides, I don’t think it’s consistent with Christian charity, or even reason, to make difference between people based on their legitimate or illegitimate birth, as if it were their own choice. It’s racism.


I’ve spoken to the kids, who understandably were confused by all this. The explanation of canon law kindly provided here was very helpful as was the support of all who responded. :slight_smile:

In Love


I don’t have any documentation for this but it is my understanding that ‘legitimacy’ in regards to children has always been a civil aspect of marriage. That’s why the Church reminds us that a ruling of nullity does not impact the children.

As such, children born to parents who contract a civilly valid marriage through a justice of the peace (without a dispensation from the Church) are just as legitimate as children born to parents who have a valid and licit Church marriage.


in my state whether or not the children take the father’s name is a matter for civil law, whether or not the parents are married, because the state requires paternity to be established for child support reasons. find out the laws in your state and set your ex right.


Any marriage that is judged to be Null is NOT, and never WAS a Valid marriage… Civil (state) marriage…Putative marriage, yes… but if it is found to be NULL by two Tribunals, it never was a marriage.

All marriages are considered to be Valid UNTIL that Null verdict is rendered by two separate Tribunals. At that point, the one given the NULL verdict is shown to have been NULL from the beginning…not “Valid for a time, and now Null”…


There has been, historically, legitimacy in the canon law of the Church as well. It persists until these days and it’s been used in such matters as admission to priesthood or episcopacy. I don’t know the extent to which it applies today. The Pope was able to legitimatise people at least for the purpose of offices in the Church. Nobles would instead prefer secular means, e.g. sending the illegitimate offspring to the imperial court. At one time, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre were able to legitimatise people, as well as pardon death convicts.

Personally, as much as I believe in marriage, I dislike the whole institution of illegitimacy. I think it’s wrong and a kind of racism. Well, not a kind of it, but a similar thing.


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