Divorce & Annulments
Bible Verses About Divorce & Annulments...
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. -Deuteronomy 31:6
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalms 34:18
Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. -James 5:13
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. -Mark 11:25
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. -2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
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Divorce & Annulments Q&A
What is an annulment?
Considering that American tribunals (courts) declare well over fifty thousand annulments each year (with eighty thousand being declared worldwide)the answer to your question might come as a surprise: the term is nowhere used or defined in the Catholic Churches code of cannon law. An annulment is an official determination by a tribunal that what appeared to be a valid marriage was actually not one. An annulment is not a finding that the spouse never really loved each other, nor that the divorce was more one party’s fault than neither the other, nor that one party is a better Catholic than the other. It is merely a juridical determination that, at the time of the wedding, one or both parties to the marriage lacked sufficient capacity for marriage or that one or both parties failed to give adequately their consent to marriage as the church understands or proclaims it or in weddings involving at least one catholic; that the parties violated the church’s requirements of canonical form in getting married.
I already have a civil divorce, but I have been told that I also need an annulment before getting married in the church again. Is this so?
A civil divorce (or for that matter a civil annulment) does nothing to affect presumed marital status in the church. Cannon 1401, n. 1, states that the church alone adjudicates cases dealing with spiritual matters, such as annulment petitions, and cannon 1671 adds that the marriage nullity cases of all the baptized (not just Catholics) can be treated under canon law. In the United States, civil law does not recognize ecclesiastical (religious) annulments; the Catholic Church does not recognize civil divorces anywhere.
I have been told there are “multiple grounds” in my marriage case. What are “grounds”, multiple or otherwise?
“Grounds” in an annulment case are like causes of action in a civil case or counts in a criminal case. The grounds in an annulment case are the reasons why one or both parties to assert their marriage is null (void)like civil cause of action or criminal counts the mere assertion of grounds for nullity does not automatically result in nullity being declared. Grounds still have to be recognized in law and then proven (1983 CIC 1526). Broadly speaking, there are six ways any marriage might be proven null (void). First and second, it could be shown that either the husband or the wife lacked basic capacity for marriage. Third and fourth, it could be shown that either the husband or the wife did not give sufficiently his or her consent to marriage as the Church understands and proclaims it. Fifth and sixth, it could be shown that either the husband or the wife failed to manifest this consent in a proper way. None of these categories is mutually exclusive of any other category, and so two or more of them could be present in a particular case, thus presenting multiple grounds for nullity.
Since our divorce, I have deliberately kept my ex – husband from finding out where I live. If I file my case, will the tribunal tell him where I live?
Tribunals (courts) gather information; they do not disperse it. There is no canonical requirement that respondents know the address of petitioners, and hence that kind of information is not typically shared. You should alert the tribunal to any special concerns you might have, though, about this kind of matter. Your former spouse’s right of defense, moreover, always remains intact, and generally respondents have the right to review the evidence, no matter what its sources, that would be used to declare the marriage null (1983 CIC 1598).