I came into the Church at Easter Vigil '13 after a dramatic conversion experience in the Fall of '12. Part of the reason I was drawn to the Church was because I was looking for the Truth about marriage and seeking spiritual resolution for the breakdown of my marriage. (My husband walked out 9 years ago and sought a no-fault divorce.)
Even after having entered the Church, I still struggled with discernment about whether or not to seek an annulment. I believe the grounds are clearly there, it’s just that coming to terms with not having a valid marriage has been difficult emotionally. There are also some spiritual reasons, but I digress. My big beef right now is with the process.
As a single mom with family far away, my financial situation is very dire. I don’t have the $50 for the filing fee, plus another $50 or so for certified marriage and divorce records, much less the $800 annulment fee. (Why isn’t a copy of a certified record sufficient?) There was NOTHING whatsoever included in the materials regarding having costs waived. I am also very concerned about my ex-husband retaliating against me for taking this step. Things between us are OK right now, and I don’t want to rock the boat, because we co-parent and he can really make my life miserable if he wants to, but the application says I have to get my questionnaire as well as certified records back within a month of receiving the initial packet. I am also concerned about the fallout if he has access to certain things that I assert in my case.
Is there any protection for spouses of abusive and/or narcissistic ex’s? How much of the record will he be able to examine if he does not choose to participate? How do I go about asking for forbearance of the administrative costs? I’m not really in a hurry to get an annulment, as I’m not planning to date any time soon, and I’m not sure I even want to get married again, but I’d like to get it done while my parents are still able to testify as they are the only people really have any knowledge/understanding of the relationship. (I am an only child and didn’t confide about my marriage to friends).
I kind of feel like this is so much more about jumping through hoops than protecting the sanctity of marriage. It doesn’t seem fair that, as a Protestant raised not even knowing that the Bible addressed marriage and divorce until I was going through it myself, and who married a non-believer who happened to be baptized, I have to go through the whole process when Catholics who married outside the Church are easily granted annulments for lack of form.
OK - rant over. I would really appreciate any advice or insight from those who have gone through the process. Honestly, for a lot of reasons, I’m questioning whether the Eastern Orthodox Church doesn’t have a better way of approaching the issue of divorce. Is this process really worth it?