What if my first marriage cannot be annulled?

There’s nothing wrong with talking to a priest – it’s just not a canonical requirement. And they are sometimes not in the best position to explain the process, since they’re not always as familiar with it as a procurator/advocate.

I wouldn’t want someone to think that there was something being done incorrectly if a priest tells them to work with a lay person to process their nullity petition, nor that the lay person is somehow less qualified.

All prior marriages must be looked at before entering into a new marriage regardless of when or where you were married.


That’s really confusing. Can a diocese overturn a previous decision? Or is the decision of a diocese not binding on another diocese? Does that mean one of them is wrong? Is there an appellate tribunal for multiple dioceses?

I find it weird that there is such push back about a suggestion that a divorced Catholic see his or her priest to discuss annullment. At no point did I suggest the priest should advocate for an anullment to be granted. Sorry…this string pisses me off a bit.

This was not a Catholic who went against church teaching. This is a new Catholic trying to change his life based on a new understanding of his new faith. Can our priests not find an hour for him? If not, what is the point of the priesthood? Who else better to explain the Catholic doctrine on marriage, and to explain the circumstances under which annulment is appropriate, or not appropriate,? Can we not trust our priests to explain whatever nuances and cautions about expectations are advisable?

My husband left, took marital money and fought over every responsibility I asked him to take (statutory child support was considered to be a gift to me) and co-parenting was made impossible by his childish obstinance. He married someone else. And his efforts went to raising her children, not his own. Yep. It shattered me and my child, over and over for years. My OWN church acted like some of you are acting, like the priest would catch leprosy if I went to him to navigate a rough patch in my life…parenting alone, being betrayed in every way. I guess every divorced woman has the hots for the priest, every divorced man is going to infect the church with bad ideas. I had to navigate staff playing goalie, but when I caught the priest after Mass he was heartbroken to hear the kind of nonsense spouted here…that he didn’t have time. He did and he was wonderfully helpful. When I formally requested to start the annulment process I got different snark…an attitude that I had to talk to him, as if I were being sent to the principal. I was just a person, suffering from a broken marriage.

In my last parish I offered to start a Bible study for men and women over 45 without partners. Whether widowed, divorced or never married, news flash…our family focused church communities sometimes offer no place for us. It is hard. .sad, lonely, heartbreaking…to go to mass alone and see all around you the family you wanted. I was told “no”. Massive church…huge congregation…I was told there weren’t other people like me in the parish. Well no, not many, because they felt so unwelcome they left.

Yes, the priest should absolutely advocate for his parishioners. Absolutely. Not to cheat a process by any means, but to help a hurting person who wishes to come home to our church and be welcomed. It’s a shame that is not considered a given.

My suggestion stands…see the priest. Whether counsel, support, confession or practical advice are needed, it is the right thing to do. Your soul and your family are not a waste of your priest’s time.


Got it. The thing is, not all parish priests have a good understanding of canon law. There are many examples in these forums in which a person reports something they say that a parish priest told them, and their reporting of his words are way off base. We can’t tell whether the priest was accurate and the person who heard them either heard or reported them inaccurately, or vice versa. Still… going to their advocate is probably the best idea, since they are familiar with the details of the OP’s case.

He does. And then the tribunal assigns an advocate to help the petitioner through the process.

It’s not. A person has the right to re-file a petition, using a different cause for nullity.

Nope. You need an annulment if you are (putatively) validly married. The Catholic Church does not assert that the only valid marriages are ones in a Catholic Church. Non-Catholic Christians marry validly, and therefore sacramentally, all the time.

No. What it means is that the first attempt might have asked “was my marriage invalid because of an intention against permanence” and received the answer “no, it is not invalid on those grounds.”

That doesn’t prevent a petitioner from later asking (in any venue that is valid for him to approach) “was my marriage invalid because of <>?”

It’s not “overturning”; it’s answering a different question.


As I said, I don’t know all the details. It what I had heard from someone. Don’t take this as an option.

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What if my first marriage cannot be annulled?

To answer this question, if your first marriage can’t be annulled, then is is a valid marriage and you must live according to Catholic teaching on these matters.

I would suggest that you operate on the assumption that your current marriage is valid, so that you will not be disappointed if that turns out to be the case.

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Yes, it is possible but, speaking from my own experience, it is unusual…maybe .25% of the cases I’ve seen were such as that (like a 1 out of 400 ratio). But, that’s just me.

To the OP: all I would say is be honest and do your best to see to it that you inform the Judge(s) to the best of your ability. The truth will set you free.



I don’t think anyone’s statements were intended as pushback, nor did anyone suggest that you shouldn’t talk to a priest. I think it was the statement, “of course he isn’t getting an annulment without a priest.”

I know I just wanted to clarify for anyone involved in a nullity case that there’s no “of course” involved. Priests are often not the person who will be talking with you about grounds or filing the paperwork.


My priest pointed me to the website of the Marriage Tribunal to get me started. He was never involved again. A deacon convalidated my marriage shortly after the annulment was approved.

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The OP has said that both him and hiw wife are now remarried…

I think what AdamP88 is getting at is that the OP should not be having marital relations with the woman to whom he is currently civilly married. They need to live as though they were brother and sister until (if ever) their civil marriage can be convalidated.

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