Question Re: infidelity and annulment


I have read with interest a lot of threads regarding annulments.

I have a question. I know someone with a situation from many years ago, who never got an annulment and for that reason,never receives Holy Communion, and basically feels that she doesn’t belong to the Church anymore. She is not angry and bitter, just sad and adrift.

Her first husband cheated on her. His other woman became pregnant. He left her for the other woman. They were civilly divorced.

I always got the impression that the lack of annulment was due to lack of money. (She never actually said that, I guess she just hinted at it.) Anyway, after reading things on these boards, I think maybe there was no grounds for a decree of nullity?

According to the church, was she supposed to remain married to this man? She had no control over his leaving her, and even if she did, I doubt she would have wanted to remain with him.

She remarried at a JOP and has never received Communion since.


She can apply for an annulment even informing the parish/diocese she has no money to pay the cost. Nothing in the post tells us if grounds exist other than the actual separation would imply something was wrong. She has everything to gain and nothing to lose by applying for annulment.

as usual with annulment threads there is not enough information to answer, and there is no way to aquire the information outside and investigation, which is why your best help for her is to direct her to her parish priest. If she thinks money is a reason to live separated from the sacraments she has been misinformed about the nature of the process, and the costs, and how fees are handled. This is a real evangelization opportunity if you can get her to confide in her priest and take is direction.

*The fact that she "re"married is the reason she shouldn’t be receiving Communion…she didn’t receive a declaration of nullity, and then re’‘married’’ civilly. She is ‘‘still married’’ to her first husband, despite what he did. Doesn’t matter if her husband cheated, she is not free to remarry, until she receives a declaration that her first marriage wasn’t valid. She shouldn’t be receiving communion if she is with another man now…but she should sit down with a priest, and discuss her options, and the annulment process. That would be a good start and coming to mass would be the next step. But, if she were say divorced, she could receive Communion, so long as she wasn’t involved with another man. Being divorced doesn’t preclude one from Communion…only if that person remarries, and hasn’t received a declaration of nullity from the first marriage. So she is being very contrite and humble to not receive Communion in the state she is living, since she remarried, civilly. Guessing really doesn’t come into play…she should really proceed with the annulment process…it can’t hurt. It can only help her in the end…at least then, her marriage now could be validated in a Catholic Church, once she receives a declaration of nullity. (if she does, and we can’t guess if she would or wouldn’t with the details given here, but it’s worth a try!) Prayers for your friend. *

If she was validly married at the time of the wedding that cannot be undone by any power on earth.

She can only not receive communion because she is currently living in an adulterous relationship with her new man. If she had not entered into another relationship she would be in good standing with the Church it is her new relationship that is the problem, and which is the reason she cannot receive communion, she has chosen her current man over fidelity to God.

I should add…didn’t feel like editing above…if she were divorced from her husband civilly, and living a chaste life…she could receive Communion. Being divorced alone, in and of itself, doesn’t preclude someone from receiving Communion. It’s remarrying when one is still married in the eyes of the Church that would cause her not to be able to receive. Even if she were never married prior to this current husband, and she married civilly…she wouldn’t be permitted to receive Communion. My husband and I were first married by a JOP, and we were not able to receive Communion, until we had our marriage validated in the Church. Hope this helps.

I can relate readily with your friends feelings. I too was divorced and remarried and felt that I could not really return to the Church because I figured I could not obtain an annulment. After some time and prayer I received a sign from God (couple of them actually) and finally applied and it was granted.
Like Texas Roofer said above, she has nothing to loose by applying and I can attest that the process can be very healing.


Just to clarify – I don’t know if she pursued the annulment or not. I know she didn’t get one, and I assumed it was because she didn’t have the money to pursue it. Now, though, I wonder if she did pursue it and it was not granted.

I can see her not telling that part of the story out of embarrassment or shame. I really think she would have wanted to be married in the Church.

I used to think that she would have easily been granted the annulment, that she was abandoned and the cheating and illegitimate child were guaranteed to get her an annulment, but now I’m not sure.

It seems a shame that if she was not granted the annulment, that she would have been expected to live chastely forever. She was a very young woman (mid-20’s) when her husband left her. They had no kids and she always desperately wanted to be a mom.

This makes no sense. We live in a society where you can get a divorce and remarry w/no problems if all papers are filled. The Church is no longer the arbiter of marriages. We live in a country where church and state are separate. No one should feel guilty because they got a divorce and remarried. Divorces happen for a number of reasons and people can remarry and be w.that person for the rest of their lives. This belief is outdated IMO.

Annulments are not based on civil issues, the annulment would look at why the marriage did not form properly (unity & procreation). Infidelity is not a cause but a result, a result of what? That is what the annulment review focuses on, why was he not with his wife then (not what he chose as an option). Why did he not bring his new child to his home with his wife? Why would they as a married couple not deal with this while staying married. I know it is easy to look at quick answers but the tribunal is looking for a more deep seated set of answers.

Hope that makes sense

As noted, church and state are separate. In the Catholic church, a marriage is until death. What society does or doesn’t do doesn’t matter in this regard. The Church doesn’t claim to control the civil status of a marriage and also allows members to obtain civil divorces if necessary (to protect oneself/children from abuse, abandonment, adultery, etc). And, of course, if one spouse obtains a civil divorce for a less serious reason, the other spouse isn’t at fault for the divorce.

As to the original posting, it is a shame that the lady’s husband abandoned her. If she is interested in the church reviewing her marriage, she should speak with a priest; I don’t think the process is that expensive and perhaps a way could be found if she doesn’t have the resources. If the marriage is found to be valid, being married to an absent man is a hard thing. The bad acts of her husband don’t, of themselves, mean the marriage didn’t happen; that’s a key point. An anullment is based on what happened at the time of the actual wedding, not what happened after (no matter how awful). The things that happened after the wedding can be suggestive of what happened at the wedding; for instance, if the husband cheated the next day, that could suggest that he never intended to be faithful.

Marriage was not instituted by the state it was instituted by God, and God remains the arbiter of marriage through His Church.
“Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” Genesis 2:24**

The State as such has no authority to change marriage and no power to separate that which God Himself has joined in marriage.
“Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Matthew 19:16**

And the Chruch certainly has the right to decide how marriage conducted by those who voluntarily place themselves under her authority will be governed just as any social group has a right to draw up rules governing the conduct of its members.

God’s laws are eternal, they don’t get outdated.

"But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife." 1 Cor. 7:10-11

Since you say you are “Christian (rediscovering Catholicism)”

I’d say you have a lot to learn. To get you started, please look over this.

Also look through some of these links from the catechism

For Catholics The Church is most certainly the arbiter of marriages.


I just don’t believe anyone should stop someone from remarrying and saying the 2nd marriage isn’t valid. Someone should be able to w/o feeling guilty and maybe upsetting a non-Catholic spouse that it isn’t valid, like the other person is a bigamist. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Also, what if you marry a non-Catholic Christian or other religion? Is that then not valid? People should be able to marry without worrying if it is allowed or will be blessed, OR if they can have a past marriage nullified. The reason a marriage fails is a very personal thing and one shouldn’t have to have it examined by people who know nothing about it. Plus, what if you get married civilly, from a JOP, is that then not valid regardless of your feelings for one another?

Not even God, you think God is wrong?

Not at all. Nullity is a condition of marriage when it is being entered into, or, properly, it is the lack of marriage at all when it is being attempted. In other words, you enter into a null marriage when you are only trying unsuccessfully to enter into marriage. Nothing that happens later can make a valid marriage invalid. As such, whatever happens later, i.e. after the wedding, is only potential evidence.

Abandonment, cheating etc. can only be evidence pointing towards something. However, that “something” cannot be that someone is capable of adultery. Everybody is capable of sin. What makes a marriage invalid in this sole regard is 1) exclusion of fidelity by a positive act of will (i.e. somebody doesn’t make a normal full promise of fidelity), 2) lack of reason with regard to fidelity (can’t grasp it on an intellectual level), 3) inability to be faithful even if one wants to be so (and this is severe issues that mess someone’s head so much that one can’t control himself, certainly not some mere inclination to cheat). Also, possibly, being a cheater by choice, a person diagnosed with sexual problems leading to infidelity etc. and hiding that fact on purpose and in order to obtain consent, could also make marriage invalid because of fraud.

Otherwise, we are talking about a person who married but failed to keep the commitment.

Apologies if I sound dry, I do feel pain for all those people who marry and later become abandoned and/or cheated on.

In the matter of illegitimate children, I would like to point out that they are still people like everybody else and have the same dignity like everybody (I am not saying that you treat them as if they didn’t).

none of these things have anything to do with validity of the marriage, which is determined by conditions that existed at the time of the marriage, not what transpired afterward. it is a huge mistake to make any assumptions whatever about anyone else’s marriage situation because it is impossible, unless you are the tribunal, the parties to the marriage, or the priest, to know all the facts. Leave it alone. If you can guide her gently to ask a priest about her situation do so if your relationship is open to such a suggestion. If not, stop speculating, judging or taking on her burdens and simply be a friend.

What I’m saying is it’s hard enough to go through a divorce and then find someone else to marry if you so wish. You shouldn’t have to go through an additional process to make your marriage “valid.” When a divorce occurs the marriage is over, you shouldn’t have to feel you’re tied to that person for eternity, especially if it ended badly. You should be able to move on w/o a big, long process. If everything is done legally, a person can divorce and marry and have no problems, you’re not commiting adultery.

You have it backwards, you should not even be looking for someone as you are still married. God does not recognise divorce, marriage is only over when someone dies. We do not get to decide this stuff we just accept what God has told us, no reason you can come up with can countermand God.

That’s ridiculous. No, you aren’t, that’s what the divorce is for. This is completely ilogical thinking.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit