What Are The Grounds For Divorce and Annulment?


#1

When is divorce and annulment acceptable?

I know someone (Catholic) dealing with spousal abuse. They have attended counseling and tried to reconcile over the last 2 years but the abuse has not stopped.

She refuses to request a divorce due to the rules of the Church.

I need info on what grounds is divorce and annulment acceptable, if any.

Thanks.


#2

[quote="Fledgling, post:1, topic:223189"]
When is divorce and annulment acceptable?

I know someone (Catholic) dealing with spousal abuse. They have attended counseling and tried to reconcile over the last 2 years but the abuse has not stopped.

She refuses to request a divorce due to the rules of the Church.

I need info on what grounds is divorce and annulment acceptable, if any.

Thanks.

[/quote]

It is something only the tribunal of the Church can answer for each "case" is individual. Before an annulment can be requested, a civil divorce must be obtained.

The Church will never say it is required that a couple stay married when one abuses another! That is unacceptable and it appears the husband is not changing. Witnesses who knew the couple before and after the wedding will be required so the Church can render an informed decision of whether this was ever a "marriage". Marriage and having a wedding are not the same thing. The wedding is a ceremony, whereas a marriage is a sacred union where the couple is united (by God - the Priest only says the words) and the couple has full understanding of what this entails. A husband is not supposed to abuse his wife -- he is to love her as his own body and be subject to Christ and be as Christ is to His Bride, the Church: that means the husband is to serve and love his wife and even be willing to die for her just as Christ died for His Bride the Church.

In my humble opinion, and it is just my own, I think the abused spouse would have no problem attaining an annulment. She needs to get out of that marriage for the abuse will only escalate, and should they have children, it will carry over to them - guarnateed to happen!! (If the husband doesn't truly repent and change - and that change has to come from him accepting that he is the problem and needs the help. Many times these abusers go to counciling and just "play the game" - with no intention to change and instead, place blame for their behaviour on everyone else but themself.)

blessings,
CEM


#3

For starters, divorce and annulment are two different things. As far as I know, the Church does not recognize divorce - should the spouse wish to remarry, but it will grant an annulment if it is determined that the marriage was never valid. A divorce is granted by the governing body (i.e. state) in order to "end" a marriage. In the Church's eyes however, a valid marriage is valid til death do them part. An annulment is a ruling by the Church that states that all of the conditions necessary to enter the Sacrament of Marriage were not met, thereby making the marriage invalid. It is a lengthy and diligent process because the Church firmly believes that "what God has joined together, let no man put asunder."

I would recommend that your friend seek shelter because her spouse may become increasingly abusive once she does decide to leave. I am fully convinced of reconciliation, but I would never condone that a person remain in an abusive situation. Abuse will almost always escalate and it is not safe to remain with such a person until they can resolve their issues.

I would recommend that your friend speak with her priest and see what recourse she has. Hopefully, she has local family members or a woman's shelter that she can seek safety there. It may also be wise to alert the local authorities. God Bless,

CSJ


#4

The husband is not Catholic.......So the marriage isn't valid according to the Church to my understanding.


#5

About what Fledgling just said, she wouldnt have to get an annullment, but just documentation that says shes free to marry again in the Church, and of course to live as a non-married person until then. Its called a Pauline Privilege. Im going through it myself.


#6

See here for the USCCB on domestic violence.


#7

[quote="Fledgling, post:1, topic:223189"]
When is divorce and annulment acceptable?

[/quote]

Divorce and nullity are two different things.

The Church recognizes that there are times when people need to physically separate to protect themselves even if it includes civil divorce. See below:

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P45.HTM

[quote="Fledgling, post:1, topic:223189"]

I know someone (Catholic) dealing with spousal abuse. They have attended counseling and tried to reconcile over the last 2 years but the abuse has not stopped.

She refuses to request a divorce due to the rules of the Church.

[/quote]

She should go talk to her priest. From the Catechism:

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

[quote="Fledgling, post:1, topic:223189"]

I need info on what grounds is divorce and annulment acceptable, if any.

[/quote]

Divorce and annulment are not the same thing

[quote="Fledgling, post:1, topic:223189"]
The husband is not Catholic.......So the marriage isn't valid according to the Church to my understanding.

[/quote]

This is not necessarily true. A Catholic can validly marry a non-Catholic.

She needs to go talk to her priest.


#8

[quote="Fledgling, post:4, topic:223189"]
The husband is not Catholic.......So the marriage isn't valid according to the Church to my understanding.

[/quote]

One party not being Catholic does not automatically make the marriage invalid. There are many, many other factors to be considered before the Church declares a marriage invalid. There is lots of paperwork to be filled out and lots of interviews to be conducted, and then the tribunal will evaluate all of the evidence and information and make a decision. An anullment is based on the state of mind of each party at the time of the wedding. I know you are concerned for your friend, but it does not sound like she is ready at this time to divorce her abusive husband. You can strongly encourge her to seek the advice of her parish priest, he will be in the best position to guide her through this sad situation.


#9

I know divorce and annulment aren't the same thing.......I was asking 2 question in one with the word "and" thrown in there.

She has spoken to her Priest. Her Priest has been providing spiritual counseling.

He keeps telling her to try and forgive him and reconcile which is why she refuses to divorce him.

So, the Catholic Church does not tolerate spousal abuse and if necessary to protect the one being abused divorce in permitted......Then complete annulment of the marriage after.

That's what I've gathered from you guys post and links.

Thanks for the info.


#10

Would getting married at the court house be considered valid to the Church?


#11

[quote="Fledgling, post:9, topic:223189"]
She has spoken to her Priest. Her Priest has been providing spiritual counseling. He keeps telling her to try and forgive him and reconcile which is why she refuses to divorce him.

[/quote]

That is unfortunate. Perhaps the priest does not have all the facts about the abuse. Abused women often whitewash the situation or make excuses.

She does not have to stay with an abusive husband.

[quote="Fledgling, post:9, topic:223189"]

So, the Catholic Church does not tolerate spousal abuse and if necessary to protect the one being abused divorce in permitted......Then complete annulment of the marriage after. That's what I've gathered from you guys post and links.

[/quote]

You have gathered wrongly.

No one has stated that there can be a "complete annulment of the marriage after." This simply isn't true. Divorce does not lead to an annulment. If her marriage is valid, she can civilly divorce him to protect herself, but she would not be free to marry anyone else if her marriage is valid.

The marriage might be valid. That is something that would have to be investigated.


#12

[quote="Fledgling, post:10, topic:223189"]
Would getting married at the court house be considered valid to the Church?

[/quote]

That depends. A Catholic can get permission to marry a non-Catholic outside of Catholic form. So, it depends upon whether or not she received the proper permissions. Also, if she initially married invalidly, she might have gotten a convalidation of the marriage later.

Details are important.

If she married outside the Church then I don't get why she's concerned about what the Church thinks of divorce-- marrying outside the Church is a sin itself. She isn't even married to him from the Church's standpoint if she didn't marry within the guidelines of Catholic law on marriage.


#13

[quote="1ke, post:11, topic:223189"]
You have gathered wrongly.

No one has stated that there can be a "complete annulment of the marriage after." This simply isn't true. Divorce does not lead to an annulment. If her marriage is valid, she can civilly divorce him to protect herself, but she would not be free to marry anyone else if her marriage is valid.

Dsivanish said she is going through an annulment at the moment.

If there are witnesses that can prove the marriage was abusive according to that one link annulment can be justified.

The marriage might be valid. That is something that would have to be investigated.

[/quote]

.......................


#14

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:223189"]
That depends. A Catholic can get permission to marry a non-Catholic outside of Catholic form. So, it depends upon whether or not she received the proper permissions. Also, if she initially married invalidly, she might have gotten a convalidation of the marriage later.

Details are important.

If she married outside the Church then I don't get why she's concerned about what the Church thinks of divorce-- marrying outside the Church is a sin itself. She isn't even married to him from the Church's standpoint if she didn't marry within the guidelines of Catholic law on marriage.

[/quote]

She's concerned because she recently came back to the Church.


#15

[quote="Fledgling, post:13, topic:223189"]
Dsivanish said she is going through an annulment at the moment.

[/quote]

Which doesn't have anything to do with your friend's situation.

[quote="Fledgling, post:13, topic:223189"]
If there are witnesses that can prove the marriage was abusive according to that one link annulment can be justified.

[/quote]

This isn't accurate.

[quote="Fledgling, post:13, topic:223189"]

She's concerned because she recently came back to the Church.

[/quote]

Sounds like maybe it's time for her to lay out ALL the facts to the priest including the fact that she didn't marry this man validly in the Church. I can't imagine a priest telling a woman who is (a) not validly married and (b) being abused to stay with the man who is (a) not her valid husband and (b) an abuser.

Sounds like she needs to give the priest all the facts.


#16

[quote="Fledgling, post:10, topic:223189"]
Would getting married at the court house be considered valid to the Church?

[/quote]

Short answer : No

Long Answer: If proper dispensation from the Bishop of her diocese had been granted then the marriage is valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church, however since you said your friend has only recently came back to the Church, we can assume dispensation was never given, and therefore no marriage exists in the eyes of the Church.


#17

[quote="Skeptic92, post:16, topic:223189"]
Short answer : No

Long Answer: If proper dispensation from the Bishop of her diocese had been granted then the marriage is valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church, however since you said your friend has only recently came back to the Church, we can assume dispensation was never given, and therefore no marriage exists in the eyes of the Church.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

Thanks


#18

[quote="Fledgling, post:17, topic:223189"]
:thumbsup:

Thanks

[/quote]

Thought I'ld add, that the Marriage tribunal of the diocese, will try every path they can to find a way to invalidate the marriage, especially in the case of spousal abuse, they check every avenue they can to find something wrong with the marriage, or the vows themselfs (simply being worded wrong can invalidate the marriage).

Your friend should gain a civil divorce (which by my understanding of the matter, will be all she needs) and then approach her priest/bishop and the marriage tribunal, who will decide whether there was ever a sacramental marriage (or what might of been one) to investigate a cause for annullment.


#19

First of all, let me point out that I assist with annulment preparations at a parish level. Skeptic92 has already provided correct information, so I will just elaborate on this topic a bit more.

When a Catholic gets married, even if it is to a non-Catholic, the following requirements are set down by the Catholic Church:

  1. Appropriate pre-marriage instructions and testimonies/interviews.
  2. Wedding takes place inside a church building, chapel, etc.
  3. The couple expresses consent and exchanges vows in front of a Catholic priest, deacon or bishop.
  4. Two other witness are present when the couple expresses consent and exchanges vows.

Any deviation from this requires formal permission from the local Catholic bishop. Furthermore, a Catholic cannot marry a non-Catholic without formal permission from his/her bishop.

Deviation from just one of these requirements can (and almost certainly does) prevent the marriage from being valid.

All Catholics are bound by these requirements, even if they are unaware of them. The only Catholics who are not bound by them are those who have defected from the Catholic Church. The Church now has a very precise understanding what it means for a Catholic to defect. Simply being a non-practicing Catholic does not equate defection (at least not in terms of obligations to follow canon law).

Based on the little bit of information you posted, it sounds like your friend got married to a non-Catholic without her bishop’s permission, and likewise got married in a courthouse without her bishop’s permission (bishop’s normally do not permit a courthouse wedding unless the local law requires it). Therefore, this certainly seems like an invalid marriage.

Nevertheless, the Catholic Church presumes all marriages to be valid unless demonstrated otherwise, and that means an annulment investigation by a Catholic tribunal. What we are probably talking about here is called a “Lack of Form” annulment. Of all the different types of annulments in the Church, this is the fastest and easiest to obtain, because it deals with easily obtainable facts. For example, your friend either had her bishop’s permission or not. No permission = no validity.

But a civil divorce is also required. The Church does not believe that a civil divorce has the power to dissolve the sacramental bond of marriage, but the issue at hand is both a spiritual one and a legal one. When people get married, even if it is invalid, they form a legal bond to one another. If a marriage is annulled, the Church is officially declaring that the person is completely free to marry someone else. Being completely free includes the legal ties of the former marriage being dissolved, and this is done through a civil divorce proceeding. Therefore, part of the paperwork a tribunal requires in order to start an annulment investigation is a copy of a finalized divorce decree.

There are many other details and nuances that go into this sort of thing. Your friend should talk to her pastor. He is the one who will go over all this with her, give her the correct paperwork, and help her along in the process.


#20

Someone I am considering marrying has gone through the same thing, is now civilly divorced, and was married in a protestant church. Does anyone have any idea how long it might take for her to get the original marriage to be declared invalid?


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