So many annulments, what does this say about marriage?

I am really trying to figure out this annulment thing.

I understand the theory, I can see the argument, and agree that theoretically it seems solid.

What I find hard to take in is how it seems to be practiced. It’s like any marriage could be annulled if you went in and looked hard enough. I’ve very rarely heard of people being refused.

And it seems to me that no one goes into marriage really understanding it, and most people probably hold back, even if it’s just a tiny bit. But in the process of living the marriage, we are transformed. At least, I think so, but it seems to me that there isn’t much room for that in the way annulment is practiced.

If there are really so many invalidly contracted marriages, shouldn’t the church be taking some huge action or making a huge effort to combat this? If they discovered so many Masses were invalid, it would be a huge scandal.

A huge number of marriage that are declared invalid are:

(a) Catholics married outside the Catholic Church
(b) Protestants seeking to become Catholic or marry a Catholic

they are, or we are, that is why there are mandatory marriage preparation programs, Foccus, engaged encounter, pre-cana, sponsor couples, affidavits of free status, paperwork, interviews, and all the other requirements. Now do a search on all the open threads complaining about how hard it is to get married in the Catholic Church. you can’t win.

I respect and admire the Pre Cana counseling, etc., but it seems getting an annulment is largely a matter of having enough money and some patience.

I have a friend, married nearly 20 years, 2 children (16 and 18) who received an annulment.

Seems to me it is just a curve ball to avoid divorce.

Many share my view that the process is a sham and is not in accordance with scripture.

Certainly, declarations of nullity seem easier to obtain now than they did in say, 1948. Is that because the process allows for more factors to be considered, or is it because there are a huge number of null marriages?

In fact, many people do enter into marriage without having the basic essential intent.

That is, they must intend: Fidelity, Permanence, Openness to Life.

When they say “till death do us part” do they mean it? The current usage is more like “all the days of my life,” but it means the same thing: only death can terminate a marriage.

When they say, “forsaking all others,” do they really intend to forsake all others?

When they say they are open to life, do they then use contraceptives?

Bluegoat said: “it seems to me that no one goes into marriage really understanding it, and most people probably hold back…”,

A lack of the intention to the 3 factors above can be evidence of a null marriage.

And that’s a shame, because children need permanence and fidelity.

Since you list your religion as “etc” I assume you are not catholic. That being the case I suspect you need some enlightening.

No one in the Catholic church (at least in the US) can get an annulment until there has been a civil divorce. So your “Curve Ball” statement is incorrect.

As to the process being a “Sham”, there are many who feel that it is being applied too liberally. However it is difficult for any of us to say just which marriages have been improperly annulled. Only the persons involved know the particulars of each case.
It is up to the Church hierarchy to reviw the process and take appropriate corrective steps if problems are found.


marriage is a perfect institution undertaken by very imperfect people. i’m married i love being married but it isn’t without its challenges.

My ex-best friend applied for an annulment so she could marry the divorced man she was dating from her church. He married outside of church yrs. ago & wasn’t Catholic at the time.

Anyway, after 2 yrs., she was told that her application was denied so her parish priest told her that the Church makes mistakes at times where an annulment should’ve been granted. Then he referred her and her fiance to get married at the Episcopal church down the street and then come back to the parish and still receive the sacraments, give out communion, and teach CCD. She told me he does this for all couples who are denied annulments.

When I questioned her about following the church’s teachings, she told me that she and Doug didn’t care b/c they truly love one another & will do what they want. What really irked me was as soon as she left her 1st husband, she started dating w/o even a legal separation until she met Doug. Then they did it the “right way” by talking first about their faith, moral beliefs, etc. and took things slowly. She has since stopped talking to me and has become very self centered…only calling me when she wanted something and when I turned her down, she’d get mad and ignore me.

I don’t need friends like that. I was always there for her whenever she had problems with her 1st husband. Dropped what I was doing and drove to her home to comfort her. Yet, when I had my stroke 4 yrs. ago, she had the nerve to ask me to make up invites to her gram’s 89th b-day party and when I told her I was recovering from being paralyzed, she got really angry with me and stopped contacting me. Then when my FIL passed away, she knew about as I cld thinking maybe she’d offer some support. NOTHING!!! No card, no calling me to see how I was, not even an email.

If she expects me to drop what I am doing when her mom or gram gets sick, I will pray for them and that’s it. It truly floors me how some ppl can appear one way on the outside and then totally be something else on the inside…that is when their true colors show.

Having had an annulment myself, I can tell you that it is NOT easy. It took about two years for approval, and that was even with having a police report documenting a beating I took. You have to have friends and family fill out a questionaire and the committee(sp?) has to confer, then the higher committee has to approve it, then it has to be signed off on.

This is very nicely summed up :thumbsup:
I can only say that anyone who thinks that getting an annulment is easy hasn’t gone through the process. The questionaire is very thorough and, if I recall correctly, is about 45 or 50 questions - Essay Questions mind you , not multiple choice.
Plus, in addition to contacting friends and family, the Tribunal attempts to contact the spouse to fill out a questionaire (though my understanding is that most do not).


I totally agree. Why is it that many, many more marriages today are invalid verses very few 50 years ago? It seems to me that it’s a no brainer to say that if one of the parties was diliberately misled about something, or if the marriage was arranged, or if there is some sort of deress, an annulment is logical. However, in my opinion, when you look at the reasons whereby a decree of nullity can be granted, I myself could be in an invalid marriage!

Also, there are three arguments about annulments I just don’t buy. First, when the word divorce is used people always freak out. “It’s not a divorce! It’s a decree of nullity” Well, what’s the difference between the two when it comes to the affects? Ask the children of people who’ve obtained annulments if it matters what you call it–mom and dad don’t live together anymore, period.

Second, not to offend but, when people talk about how “hard” it is to get, how “long” you have to wait, or how many questions, interviews, etc., you have to muddle through, isn’t it a small price to pay? I mean after all, we are talking about the breaking of a covenant here right? (Oops! I forgot, the covenant never existed in the first place, so your really not breaking anything)

Third, If you weren’t able to recognize the fact that you were about to enter into an invalid marriage the first time, how do you, the priest, and the church know if your entering a valid one the second time? Statistically speaking, the divorce rates for second marriages are somewhere in the 80 percent range.

I know that I’m going to make a lot of people angry with my post, but I believe the majority of annulments granted in the US are simply “catholic divorces”. I could have opted out of a bad marriage at any point during the first 6 to 7 years. I could have sought an annulment, and I probably would’ve gotten one (considering age and other drastic circumstances), but they would have been nothing more than excuses. I knew that what I had entered into was permenant, I made a promise to God (didn’t much care about the promise to hubby at the time) and I had to keep it. Long story short, I am glad I did. It wasn’t easy, still isn’t, but my four children will never have to go through the things I have watched some of my divorced friends kids go through. Not to mention, time, patience, prayer and love have a way of changing things between couples. People shouldn’t give up. Anything is possible with God.

I have to agree with most of the posts here. When my ex-friend got married, she was pregnant and said she did it b/c she wanted to change him. After I told her that she can’t change a man by marrying him, she changed her story stating that she meant she thought he’d grow up and take responsibility for her and the baby once they married.

She put on her application that her marriage was a sham and that her ex lied about several things before and during the union. After it was denied, she was very upset as she thought it was one of the reasons the church could grant a nullification based upon false intentions.

Honestly, she married for all the wrong reasons, but at the time, she was determined more than ever to change him to save herself from embarrassment . She even told her friends that she saw nothing wrong w/sex before marriage & she was glad that she did it to make sure they both were compatible physically. After several yrs., she realized that she made a huge mistake when he started missing payments on the house, car, etc. and the collection agencies were after them both. Then he’d only hold down a job for a few months and then quit which forced her to find work to support her 2 sons. To make matters worse, she wasn’t taking responsibility for her actions either and was placing the break down of the marriage entirely on him. It takes 2 people to make a marriage work, to communicate, take responsibility for mistakes, and to ask for forgiveness. She claims to have tried counseling several times @ Catholic Charities but it didn’t work as she only attend 5 sessions and it got to a point where she told her counselor that she’s done & wants a divorce. end of story.

We haven’t talked in over a yr. but I ran into her a while back at a Christian concert.She was bragging how great Doug is, that we should get together some time (I tried to meet w/her & then on the day we were to meet, she’d bail on me w/an excuse) , she’s bringing in over $30/hr. at her new job, etc. She seemed very stuck on herself which totally turned me off. So, I am blessed w/some new friends who have an awesome understanding of the Church, have morals, and a strong belief in our faith.

God is good. When one door closes, another one opens.

I’ll try to take this paragraph by paragraph.

First, many more marriages are considered invalid because many more people get out of bad marriages than they did 50 years ago. Therefore, there are more divorced Catholics attempting to have their marriage annulled.

You are correct. To most kids, it does not matter. (I say most because my cousin would love to have her mom’s previous marriage to be considered null and void).

Second, it is a fact that it takes a while. It is also very hard to get, whether anyone else believes it or not. My aunt’s petition was not granted, neither was her best friend’s. Both of them were cheated on and the man left, so the divorce was not something they could help, really, so perhaps it actually is more difficult than those who have not been through it believe.

In the third point, the statistic you give is 80 per cent. How much of that 80 is a Catholic remarriage that one person has had an annulment? I can tell you, after that process I was a LOT more careful in finding my husband. For the record, we have already broken many “statistics” due to issues our son has had, and I’m sure we will break that 80 per cent as well.

Yes, you can opt out of a marriage if you want, at any point. That does not mean that you will be granted an annulment in the Catholic church. I really wish so many people (not just here) that have not been through it would stop saying how “easy” it is. It really is not and it undermines the difficulties that those of us who have been through it had to deal with.

I know that when someone gets a divorce and than remarries or has another relationship with someone else after that, than it is adultery. However, I realize that an annulment is very different, but at the same time whichever person chose to get an annulment was married at one point. I guess that it would be OK than I assume ?

You are correct. An annulment means that to the Church, the person was actually never married. The original marriage “does not count.” Therefore, they are not committing adultery.

thank you!!

the problem with that line of logic is it would have to leave any children from the non-marriage illegitimate. which in this day and age really doesn’t matter as more and more people are opting for children without marriage anyway.

The Church doesn’t recognize children as being legitimate or illegitimate. They are just people, whatever the condition of the parents.

To me, dear friends, the issue remains one that we cannot address here for we cannot know which annulments should or should not have been granted.

We lookat some statistic and say, “Whoa!! Why are they all of a sudden issuing so many annulments? It sure wasn’t like that years ago. Something must be wrong!!”

And with this sentiment I will agree. There IS something wrong. The Question is What??

Is the issue one of poor catechesis and pre-cana counciling over the last 50 years?
Is the issue one of Permissive society undermining the values of Church, Family and marriage?
Is the Issue one of those who serve on tribunals being to liberal in their interpretations of the Church’s instructions?

In the first two cases it may be that we must first, improve catachesis in general and then improve the pre-cana to reduce the number of bad marriages.
In the third case, it would be necessary for the Church hierarchy to look into the decisions of the Tribunals and, without reversing already granted annulments, better train those serving and tighten up the interpretations of the rules.

As to those of us who have been granted annulments, should we as individuals sit around and wonder if “Our Personal Case” was one that should not have been granted?
The answer to that is a firm and resounding NO.
I entered into the process honestly and with every intention of abiding by the Church’s ruling. The Church, operating under the rules and procedures laid out, determined that my first marriage was invalid and granted the annulment. That is the end of it for me.


It seems like the majority do not think there is a problem in the annulments being granted - if anything, there are too many people getting married without proper discretion.

I seem to recall some statement recently by the Pope about annulments in North America - am I misremembering?

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