Annulling a marriage

I know a guy who is catholic, married a catholic, had four children they were raising as catholics. He decides he really likes this cute, young chick, another catholic, and proceeds to get his marriage annulled. After all, the cute, young, catholic chick wouldn’t marry a divorced man. (Huh?)

So, the guy gets an annulment. Isn’t this like the church saying the marriage didn’t happen? What does that make the children? Bastards?

Read this:

Technically, an annulment states that the marriage was invalid, not that it didn’t happen. Canon law specifically states that the children are legitimate.

Thank you.

Does the annulment affect the status of the marriage as far as the state is concerned? Wouldn’t this man need to get a divorce from the state in order to avoid being prosecuted for bigamy?

It sounds like that depends on the local laws (one very well might need the civil divorce, as well).

It used to be a standing joke that there was a loophole for catholics who were in good standing with the local church heirarchy. During the debate on allowing divorce in Italy, one article printed the old joke among Italians “There is no divorce in Italy, and only the Catholics can get one.”

Of course, the church decision has no standing with anyone except the Catholic church. You still would need a civil divorce. What it did allow was for practising catholics to then get remarried without the church telling them they were sinners in its eyes. IIRC it was JPII who changed the rules to stop the joke where people married 30 years could routinely ask for annulments just because the marriage broke up. As I understand, things are a bit more difficult these days.

You always needed a lot more grounds for an annulment than just “I’ve got my eye on this cute young thing”. There’s presumably more to this story than what you have in the OP.

Unless he’s very rich, or very well-connected politically, the chances that he just breezily got his marriage annulled (as the OP suggests) are pretty much nil.

[anecdote]I dated a Catholic guy briefly when I was a teen. He had one full brother, and a much-older half-brother and half-sister from his father’s first marriage. Father had had that marriage annulled and despite maintaining a good relationship with his oldest children, he’d left them out of his will because “the marriage was annulled which means it never happened, which means they don’t exist”.
Absolute asshole of a man. I loathed him.

Not to be confused with the Catholic church’s canon law procedure, which matters only to Catholics, in most jurisdictions there is also the civil legal annulment, which declares that what appeared to be a marriage actually was not one, owing to an impediment. Two examples:

Two sixteen-year-olds run off and contract marriage, getting a license and having a J.P. conduct the ceremony, and set up housekeeping together. The problem is that in this state the legal age to contract marriage without parental/judge’s consent is 18. Hence although it appeared to their neighbors they were a young married couple, they were not yet legally able to contract a marriage. Parents trace them down, bring them home, and have the marriage annulled. Not a divorce – a court declaration that there was in fact no marriage.

  1. Barring the results of any Federal equal protection case, Donald North goes to the county clerk and gets a marriage license to wed Kelly O’Leary; tghe ceremony is duly conducted by a willing minister. Unfortunately, Kelly is also a man, and they live in a state that has explicitly banned gay marriages. This is not a valid legal marriage presuming no 14th amendment right has in the interim been recognized), and the court acts to annul it.

Not sure why #2 would need an annullment. It would not be considered a marriage to begin with if that was the law. A recent example in a soap opera was where one or both were too drunk to consent. Incidentally, they said the requirement that the marriage not be consummated was incorrect too; although IIRC non-consummation after a certain amount of time is grounds for annullment.

In Canada, when abortion was illegal, it was not difficult in the 70’s and 80’s to find a hospital committee (in some plaes) that agreed that the mother’s mental distress met the loophole “unless the mother’s health is in danger”. I think the Catholic annullment process used to be similar.

“Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, of course the the marriage was such a big mistake according to church rules that it should never have happened. Annullment granted!” JPII put his foot down to stop this flouting of the rules, but I imagine with the right connections and friends in the church you can still get the procedure today. Note that it means “it was a mistake, should not have happened”, not “it never happened, ignore it.”

Henry VIII wanted an annullment (not a divorce) from his first wife Catherine, on the grounds that she was his older brother’s fiancee before she died so marrying her was not right according to clerical law - not because after 10 years and 9 miscarriages she had only produced Mary, no male heir. The annullment was routine, except that the pope was a “guest” of Catherine of Aragon’s dad, King o’Spain. No annullment. So he made up his own.

Of course a civil divorce is necessary. But he couldn’t* remarry* in The Church without getting an annulment–through The Church. (There are also civil annulments, discussed in previous posts.)

Nice job on civil annulments! A couple of nitpicks on the above: Catherine was married to Prince Arthur, the future Henry VIII’s older brother who died, and canon law, binding in England before the Act of Supremacy, forbade marrying your brother’s widow. To preserve the marriage alliance, Henry VII obtained a papal dispensation from this for his surviving son and Catherine, which Henry VIII, with religious scruples and lust for Anne Boleyn working hand-in-glove, claimed was the reason God was punishing him by failing to give him a son. Catherine’s parents were Ferdinand and Isabella (yeah, the same ones Columbus dealt with); it was her nephew Charles V, son of her older sister Juana la Loca and Philip of Austria, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, who leaned on the Pope not to grantg the annulment. (FWIW, Henry and Catherine’s only surviving child, Bloody Mary, would later marry Philip II, Charles V’s son.)

Shelie Rauch Kennedy’s Shattered Faith is a good book on the subject. When her ex-husband wanted to get married again in the Church, he got an annulment. Probably helped that he was Joseph Kennedy.

The fact that the annulment was over her objections is the really interesting part. As I understand it, usually both parties have to actively seek the annulment for it to even be considered.

Read my last sentence: Probably helped that he was Joseph Kennedy.

My ex-wife wanted an annulment and sent me the paperwork to sign. I tossed it in the trash.

My aunt worked in her church and handled the paperwork for annulments. She told me that there are two basic kinds of annulments - “automatic” annulments and discretionary annulments. Automatic annulments are granted when the marriage is clearly invalid. She cited some examples, including a marriage where one of the people is gay (unbeknownst to the other) and where the couple never intended to have children (procreation being an essential element of marriage in the church’s eyes). Those people would get annulments without much trouble. The rest of them are up to the church and are much more difficult to get. Being unfaithful or abandoning your spouse generally isn’t enough to get an annulment. You have to make the case that the marriage was invalid from the very beginning.

My first marriage was annulled. I didn’t care about it but my aunt thought it was important so I let her do it. She issued the annulment on the grounds that I married under duress (which was true). I paid the fee ($50) and she filed the paperwork.

When I got remarried I lied to the priest and to the clerk who issued the marriage license and said that I had never been married. Neither checked whether I was telling the truth. I did have a valid divorce and annulment so my current marriage is valid both legally and in the eyes of the church.

Quoth md2000:

Yes, that’s precisely why it would call for an annulment. Annulment is not the same thing as divorce.

Quoth muldoonthief:

My parents’ marriage was annulled on the grounds that my father was not mentally fit to enter into a marriage. Like many mentally-ill folks, he contests this finding.

Some misconceptions here.

You do not need to have both participate. They’re not suprised that an anullable marriage may not have the most charitable mutual involvement, though some reconciliation and healing may be part of the process is possible.

You generally need to have a civil divorce first. Theoretically, the Church doesn’t require either a civil marriage or divorce as a matter of religion, but as a practical issue it’s required as part of the often-tense-but-usually-peacable issue of state relations. In fact, Catholics can get divorced; but it doesn’t end the marriage in the Church’s eyes.

While the Kennedys seem to get a lot of breaks, including possibly an anullment, it’s hard to say without knbowing more about the case. Right or wrong in this case, the Church isn’t going to publicize it. However, AnnieX-mas, the fact that both were not involved is not relevant.

The big no-no in the Church’s eyes are “secret reservations.” These are often what the Anullment is granted on, and one thing many parishes work to iron out and avoid with pre-marital counselling. Basically, you’re not supposed to lie to your prospective spouse. I mean, not everything is serious enough, but if you’re lieing about your intentions or your willingness, you can probably get anulled. Also for people who get married during periods of severe mental stress or illness.

Finally, as far as the Church is concerned, it doesn’t change the status of the children. If they were conceived in a marrriage which was though legitimate, they’re legit. And the whole legit/illegit question is a matter of responsibility and disapproval for the parents, not the children.