Verbal / Physical Abuse grounds for annulment?


#1

I have an aunt who’s seeking an annulment. Immediately after her marriage, her husband verbally and physically abused her, and this continued for several years. Is this grounds for annulment, one, and two, would his lack of cooperation in the process prevent her from attaining an annulment?


#2

Your aunt needs to seek the advice of a wise and holy priest concerning grounds for an annulment. Annulments are investigated on a case by case basis and he would be in the best position to advise her on her situation. Her former husband’s cooperation (or lack of) will make no difference in the outcome. Does she have a civil divorce? You must have a civil divorce before the annulment process can begin.


#3

[quote="Bezant, post:1, topic:246360"]
I have an aunt who's seeking an annulment. Immediately after her marriage, her husband verbally and physically abused her, and this continued for several years. Is this grounds for annulment, one, and two, would his lack of cooperation in the process prevent her from attaining an annulment?

[/quote]

no. what happens after the marriage is not grounds for annulment and not part of the investigation unless (as in this case) it may shed helpful light on conditions that pertained at the time the marriage was contracted. she needs to see her priest about her individual situation to get answers relevant to her specific situation. No his lack of cooperation will not necessarily hinder the process, nor if she has since left him and is afraid of contact does she need any contact with him.


#4

[quote="puzzleannie, post:3, topic:246360"]
no. what happens after the marriage is not grounds for annulment and not part of the investigation unless (as in this case) it may shed helpful light on conditions that pertained at the time the marriage was contracted. she needs to see her priest about her individual situation to get answers relevant to her specific situation. No his lack of cooperation will not necessarily hinder the process, nor if she has since left him and is afraid of contact does she need any contact with him.

[/quote]

Puzzleannie provides good advice here. I would also suggest your aunt get her own account and check out the group listed below in my signature block. Many of us in the group have been through the same type of situation and there is also a Canon lawyer in the group to field questions. The group is only open to those that are going or are close (ie civilly married to) through divorce or annulment process though. God bless.


#5

Dear Bezant,
I have been married for 33yrs and just recently called an old (nun) friend of mine about this same question. From the information she gave me, and she has helped five others go through an annulement so she knows the process and how it works, this information may answer your questions. Yes, abuse and adultery are reasons to divorce and seek annulements.

  1. An annulement is given so if the divorcee who is Catholic is released from their committment to the bad marriage and can build a relationship with another and remarry with the Church’s blessings. The Second is so the divorced Catholic can move on with their lives and still be in the grace of the Church. The questions on the form will include reasons for the divorce and as long as it’s not for selfish reasons, like your grandmother’s case, than your grandfather can not stop the annulement. The reasons for her divorce do not need his admitance to his sins. Your grandmother did not cause the marriage to suffer and be damaged… her reasons for leaving are because she has lived in fear and she has been in the hands of an abuser. God wants your granmother to be spiritually healthy and the Church understand this. Her annulement will not be denied for these reasons.

  2. Just so you know, Holy Communion is not forbidden to a divorced person. I was under the impression I couldn’t receive communion until the annulement was completed, this is not the truth. Communion is always offered as long as we are in good graces… we haven’t committed mortal sins that haven’t been confessed such as adultery, etc…

  3. Also, you can not file for an annulement until the divorce has been completed. Again, No, the other spouse can not stop you from receiving an annulement. It use to be much harder to get an annulement but today, in your grandmother’s case, she will be fine. The primary reason for getting an annulement is so the Catholic divorcee can remarry. My friend told me as long as I have witnesses who can speak for me, that the abuse was witnessed by them, than your grandmother will be fine. These people will have to help her with the paper work, not her ex-husband. The Church knows the spouse will not admit to this. That’s just common knowledge with abusers… they are not honest about their abusive nature.

Hope this answered your questions. God Bless you and many blessings to your grandmother. May she find some great joy and peace in her future!


#6

There is some serious misinformation on this thread.

Please encourage the person interested in applying for a decree of nullity to make an appointment with her priest. Also the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster is an excellent resource that I suggest you purchase or obtain from the library.


#7

I am not an expert but I can tell you my personal experience. I was married and I suffered both verbal and physical violence from my ex-husband and Iafter many years of putting up with it, I went to seek the advice of a priest. The priest himself was the one who encouraged me to leave my husband and apply for an annulment. I followed his advice and I did get the annulment. I can tell you that the priest advice for me was invaluable and I was able to take all the right decisions for me and my daughter thanks to my church. I don’t know the particular circumstances of your aunt but I do know that a priest can guide her in the right direction. Have her go and talk to a priest and I’m sure he will guide her in the right direction.


#8

[quote="Bezant, post:1, topic:246360"]
I have an aunt who's seeking an annulment. Immediately after her marriage, her husband verbally and physically abused her, and this continued for several years. Is this grounds for annulment, one,

[/quote]

As always, you must speak to a priest first to determine if there may be grounds for an annulment.

That said, physical and verbal abuse immediately followed the marriage could be indicative of a reason the marriage should have not taken place. Your aunt can discuss this with a priest.

, and two, would his lack of cooperation in the process prevent her from attaining an annulment?

Spousal cooperation does not have to occur, though the Church will contact the spouse and offer him/her the opportunity to do so.

Good luck.


#9

The fact is there are a whole host of reasons you could be granted an annulment and a whol host of reasons why you may not.

Generally speaking, there has to be a finding that the marriage was in error due to some premarriage condition or events. There is no one here that could tell you if you have a good case or not because the detail the tribunal will go through is extremely detailed.

However, from my readings, if a priest suggests starting the process about 80% of the time an annulment is granted. So, if you go to your priest and he says it sounds like you have a case then there’s a good chance it will happen. Luckily most of our priests are very wise and are the best place to start.


#10

[quote="Kim77, post:5, topic:246360"]
Dear Bezant,
I have been married for 33yrs and just recently called an old (nun) friend of mine about this same question. From the information she gave me, and she has helped five others go through an annulement so she knows the process and how it works, this information may answer your questions. Yes, abuse and adultery are reasons to divorce and seek annulements.
!

[/quote]

thank you some helpful info but incomplete and could lead to false assumptions for that reason

no the purpose of annulment is not so the innocent party to a civil divorce can "get on with their lives and become romantically involved with someone else."

It is a legal investigation instigated at the request of one or both parties to a marriage that has irretrievably broken down, undertaken because they believe the marriage has been invalid from its inception. Its goal is to establish facts, not predicated on what either party might or might not do in the future.


#11

[quote="puzzleannie, post:3, topic:246360"]
no. what happens after the marriage is not grounds for annulment and not part of the investigation unless (as in this case) it may shed helpful light on conditions that pertained at the time the marriage was contracted. she needs to see her priest about her individual situation to get answers relevant to her specific situation. No his lack of cooperation will not necessarily hinder the process, nor if she has since left him and is afraid of contact does she need any contact with him.

[/quote]

What kind of a church does not help those who are afflicted. What kind of church does not offer help to women who are abused. I have been living the last 20 years of my life with an abuser. He did a complete 360 on me after we got married, how is that not grounds for an annulment. I went to three different priests and none could help me. All they said was to separate and live my life alone. So now I have to be alone for the rest of my life because he screwed up and is unwilling to change. I have to put up with his abuse. Whenever I have something contrary to what he says he tells me that I provoke him to scream at me. I get so fustrated because all I could do is to shutup the f**k up as he so politely tells me in front of our children. Thank God for secular help because when it comes to women the church is way behind. Open your eyes devout catholics because the church has not made a stand on this issue. You can tell me that Pope John Paul II made wonderful sermons on the subject but the church offers no teachings whatsoever and neither does it have anything to help catholic abused women. We have to seek secular help. We do not even have Retrouvaille program in my province. There is no uniformity in the church. I am so disappointed. So many catholics are seeking civil divorces. There is no help from our parishes or diocese. Too few priests who have no time. The shepherds are loosing their flock and they are not doing anything about it.

Forgive me my brothers and sisters, it is apparent that I am angry but I will not excuse myself but I ask that you all pray for us women because this is purgatory and sometimes hell. My worst feeling is that I am still with him and have exposed myself and my children to harm. I feel such guilt for exposing them that it hurts my chest; even as I speak my chest and heart hurt. I had an argument with my husband. They say it takes two but it doesn't with an abuser. I brought up a point that hit a sore spot. It wasn't derogatory or insulting but it made a statement. He got so defensive and began to lash out. I was caught off guard because I meant no harm. He began to scream and I calmly told him to stop and that he took my statement out of context. He wouldn't listen. He continued and not once did I get angry or talk back. But I could see in my daughter's face that she was hurt. I can honestly say that he sickens me literally. I tried to talk to him later when he was calm but he did a gesture like flicking a fly and told he doesn't want to talk. He is derogatory and proud and worst of all manipulative. His whole family is like that. Why in God's name did I not runaway. I had no place to go except a shelter. If the church would have had some home to go to I would of gone but they don't. The shelter made me feel alone. But I took the courage to visit one and get help. Now I am waiting for the right time. But since my children are young adolescents they are not willing to come with me. This is what is truly stopping me. The church has let me down. But my faith in God is strong. He sustains me; however I am growing weary; my body and mind and heart can't handle it anymore.

Please anyone who is being abused whether he controls you, isolates you financially or from family and friends or verbally, physically and/or psychologically abuses you PLEASE PLEASE TAKE YOUR KIDS AND RUN TO THE NEAREST SHELTER AND GET HELP. IT MAY SEEM AT TIMES IT GETS BETTER BUT IT NEVER GOES AWAY. DO NOT EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN TO THIS EVEN IF THE ABUSE IS ONLY DIRECTED ON YOU; DO NOT LET THEM SEE YOU GETTING ABUSED. PLEASE!!!!


#12

[quote="Bezant, post:1, topic:246360"]
I have an aunt who's seeking an annulment. Immediately after her marriage, her husband verbally and physically abused her, and this continued for several years. Is this grounds for annulment, one, and two, would his lack of cooperation in the process prevent her from attaining an annulment?

[/quote]

I thought annulment could only happen when it was established that a marriage never actually took place?? :confused:

This whole annulment thing has always bugged me/confused me.

The more I learn about it, the more it seems like just a Catholic divorce. :shrug:

My prayers to your aunt. What a sad thing to have happen to her. :(


#13

#14

[quote="Debora123, post:12, topic:246360"]
I thought annulment could only happen when it was established that a marriage never actually took place?? :confused:

[/quote]

I'm not sure what you mean by a marriage "never took place." A decree of nullity declares that a putative marriage is invalid.

[quote="Debora123, post:12, topic:246360"]
This whole annulment thing has always bugged me/confused me.

[/quote]

I suggest you read the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster.

[quote="Debora123, post:12, topic:246360"]
The more I learn about it, the more it seems like just a Catholic divorce. :shrug:

[/quote]

I really suggest you read the book I mentioned, because you've gotten some bad information somewhere along the line.


#15

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
What kind of a church does not help those who are afflicted. What kind of church does not offer help to women who are abused.

[/quote]

I'm not sure where you've gotten the idea that the Church does not help women in such situations. You're ideas are way off base.

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
I have been living the last 20 years of my life with an abuser. He did a complete 360 on me after we got married, how is that not grounds for an annulment.

[/quote]

It **might **be. A case must be presented to the tribunal including witness testimony. It is possible that both parties entered into the marriage validly. And, it's possible that both parties did not.

Abuse is certainly a reason to separate. It does not necessarily indicate the marriage is invalid. It might be a valid marriage with a bad person.

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
I went to three different priests and none could help me. All they said was to separate and live my life alone.

[/quote]

If you believe your canon law rights have been violated, you can contact the St. Joseph Foundation. st-joseph-foundation.org/

If three priests have indicated you do not have a case for nullity, then something in the details of what you have told them has led them to believe this is the case.

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
So now I have to be alone for the rest of my life because he screwed up and is unwilling to change. I have to put up with his abuse. Whenever I have something contrary to what he says he tells me that I provoke him to scream at me. I get so fustrated because all I could do is to shutup the f**k up as he so politely tells me in front of our children.

[/quote]

The priests advised you to separate from him.

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
Thank God for secular help because when it comes to women the church is way behind.

[/quote]

The Church does assist women in need. It cannot fix everything or have a program for everything. But it does partner with community resources.

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
Forgive me my brothers and sisters, it is apparent that I am angry but I will not excuse myself but I ask that you all pray for us women because this is purgatory and sometimes hell.

[/quote]

Why are you stll with him? Please get away from your abuser!

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
The church has let me down.

[/quote]

I'm sorry, it is not the Church who has let you down. It is your husband. The Church cannot solve every problem or cure every ill. The Church works with organizations such as shelters that are set up to do exactly what abused people need.


#16

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
What kind of a church does not help those who are afflicted. What kind of church does not offer help to women who are abused. I have been living the last 20 years of my life with an abuser. He did a complete !!!!

[/quote]

the Church offers all kinds of practical and spiritual help to abused women

the annulment process however is not the means by which that help comes, and in any case would be too late to be of practical help for someone suffering in that immediate situation. If you or anyone you know is in that condition contact your pastor at a once for pastoral care and contact Catholic Social Services or Catholic Charities for immeidate practical assistance.

Once the marriage has broken down and that is signaled by civil divorce--which is entirely allowable in such situations, is time to consider annulment, but that by itself won't end the abuse. Nor will it protect children caught between parent sin that situation. It calls for immediate action on the part of the abused spouse who is obligated to seek out all help from the civil authority and from the Church--but the Church cannot do what is in the realm of the civil authority, such as police protection.


#17

[quote="Still_Hoping, post:11, topic:246360"]
What kind of a church does not help those who are afflicted. What kind of church does not offer help to women who are abused. I have been living the last 20 years of my life with an abuser. He did a complete 360 on me after we got married, how is that not grounds for an annulment. I went to three different priests and none could help me. All they said was to separate and live my life alone. So now I have to be alone for the rest of my life because he screwed up and is unwilling to change. I have to put up with his abuse. Whenever I have something contrary to what he says he tells me that I provoke him to scream at me. I get so fustrated because all I could do is to shutup the f**k up as he so politely tells me in front of our children. Thank God for secular help because when it comes to women the church is way behind. Open your eyes devout catholics because the church has not made a stand on this issue. You can tell me that Pope John Paul II made wonderful sermons on the subject but the church offers no teachings whatsoever and neither does it have anything to help catholic abused women. We have to seek secular help. We do not even have Retrouvaille program in my province. There is no uniformity in the church. I am so disappointed. So many catholics are seeking civil divorces. There is no help from our parishes or diocese. Too few priests who have no time. The shepherds are loosing their flock and they are not doing anything about it.

Forgive me my brothers and sisters, it is apparent that I am angry but I will not excuse myself but I ask that you all pray for us women because this is purgatory and sometimes hell. My worst feeling is that I am still with him and have exposed myself and my children to harm. I feel such guilt for exposing them that it hurts my chest; even as I speak my chest and heart hurt. I had an argument with my husband. They say it takes two but it doesn't with an abuser. I brought up a point that hit a sore spot. It wasn't derogatory or insulting but it made a statement. He got so defensive and began to lash out. I was caught off guard because I meant no harm. He began to scream and I calmly told him to stop and that he took my statement out of context. He wouldn't listen. He continued and not once did I get angry or talk back. But I could see in my daughter's face that she was hurt. I can honestly say that he sickens me literally. I tried to talk to him later when he was calm but he did a gesture like flicking a fly and told he doesn't want to talk. He is derogatory and proud and worst of all manipulative. His whole family is like that. Why in God's name did I not runaway. I had no place to go except a shelter. If the church would have had some home to go to I would of gone but they don't. The shelter made me feel alone. But I took the courage to visit one and get help. Now I am waiting for the right time. But since my children are young adolescents they are not willing to come with me. This is what is truly stopping me. The church has let me down. But my faith in God is strong. He sustains me; however I am growing weary; my body and mind and heart can't handle it anymore.

Please anyone who is being abused whether he controls you, isolates you financially or from family and friends or verbally, physically and/or psychologically abuses you PLEASE PLEASE TAKE YOUR KIDS AND RUN TO THE NEAREST SHELTER AND GET HELP. IT MAY SEEM AT TIMES IT GETS BETTER BUT IT NEVER GOES AWAY. DO NOT EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN TO THIS EVEN IF THE ABUSE IS ONLY DIRECTED ON YOU; DO NOT LET THEM SEE YOU GETTING ABUSED. PLEASE!!!!

[/quote]

You are not hearing what is being said to you. The first thing you need to do is leave and separate. Yes you need to be a lone until the decree of nullity. No one says you should stay - as a matter of fact the Church says the complete opposite. The Church actually says you should leave and seek a decree of nullity.

This is the statement from the USCCB

This is the part of the statement that I mention

Finally, we emphasize that no person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage. Some abused women believe that church teaching on the permanence of marriage requires them to stay in an abusive relationship. They may hesitate to seek a separation or divorce. They may fear that they cannot re-marry in the Church. Violence and abuse, not divorce, break up a marriage. We encourage abused persons who have divorced to investigate the possibility of seeking an annulment. An annulment, which determines that the marriage bond is not valid, can frequently open the door to healing.

What you are confusing here are simple correct explanations. People are making sure it is clear that no one thinks the abuse itself is the ground for the decree but that the abuse itself is the evidence for the ground for the decree.

I am sorry for your situation. I have been there. There are a couple of us that have. Below in my signature block you will find a link to the CAF Annulment and Divorce group - we also have a Canon Lawyer that can help you. Also maybe we can help you get into touch with some Catholic services in your area. Many parishes do not have them. They are at the diocesan level - under Catholic Charities.

This is one of the things I want to make my life's work - in actually starting a nation-wide organization that does just that.

God bless.


#18

[quote="puzzleannie, post:16, topic:246360"]
the Church offers all kinds of practical and spiritual help to abused women

the annulment process however is not the means by which that help comes, and in any case would be too late to be of practical help for someone suffering in that immediate situation. If you or anyone you know is in that condition contact your pastor at a once for pastoral care and contact Catholic Social Services or Catholic Charities for immeidate practical assistance.

Once the marriage has broken down and that is signaled by civil divorce--which is entirely allowable in such situations, is time to consider annulment, but that by itself won't end the abuse. Nor will it protect children caught between parent sin that situation. It calls for immediate action on the part of the abused spouse who is obligated to seek out all help from the civil authority and from the Church--but the Church cannot do what is in the realm of the civil authority, such as police protection.

[/quote]

Puzzleannie - with all due respect this is one that I can see the OPs point - because no one gave me the route of Catholic Charities when I was going through it. For rural women going through these things they are very dependent on their community. (I do not know if the poster is rural but I am giving you an example of where I was coming from.) My ex had done such a good job of poisoning my parish that there was NO help for me. I was even kicked out of ministry because supposedly I was psychologically unstable. Now, I know now if I had picked up that phone and talked to someone at Cath Charities they might have been able to help but they were four hours away and I was unable to drive due to my medical condition. So yes I had the police involved and no money coming in, etc. This is one of those things where we need to better educate SOME of our older clergy in the rural settings.


#19

[quote="1ke, post:14, topic:246360"]
I'm not sure what you mean by a marriage "never took place." A decree of nullity declares that a putative marriage is invalid.

[/quote]

"Never took place"... as in, for whatever reason, God didn't bind the couples' souls together in the sacrament of matrimony. Meaning the marriage was never valid to begin with.

To my understanding, annulment is when it has been determined that this (above) was the case. Am I correct?


#20

In order to obtain an annulement, you have to be able to show that one or more of the following existed at the moment of marriage:

  1. Fraud was involved by one or more parties

  2. One of the parties (or both) were too young to make a valid marriage

  3. There was no intent to validly marry on one or both parts.

  4. One or both of them did NOT intend to allow children to be born of the marriage

  5. That there was some other impediment, that caused the marriage itself to be invalid from the very beginning.

Abuse would normally NOT be grounds for an annulement, unless the person had somehow coherced the other party to marry. This WOULD be grounds for a divorce however.

Keep in mind that a divorce is NOT a sin, if there are valid grounds for obtaining one. So long as the person does not try to remarry, they have not committed a sin to obtain a valid divorce. PLUS, this way, your aunt also get spousal support, etc.


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