Even though this has to do with a religious subject matter, I’m asking for official doctrine, so I hope it’s OK to post my question here.
Since an Annulment means that the marriage never was, then does that mean the two people involved were living in sin and fornicating?
I’m mostly interested in Catholic teaching, since I am one, and because I think that we’re the only ones who grant it.
If you’re from another denomination who has them, that’s fine too, but again, I’d prefer all replies to be about the official position taken by your church, since personal opinions would probably force this thread to be moved over into Great Debates.

And if there are children, I have wondered if that makes
them illegitimate.

Here’s some info - don’t know if it’ll answer all of your questions tho.

Lots of topics here. I just skimmed the topics but it looks as if you can find lots of info there too.


A serious sin requires full advertance of the will.

The couple in question believed they had received from each other a valid sacrament of matrimony. They had no idea they were not sacramentally married. The annulment, when it’s granted, recognizes that even though there was the appearance of a valid marriage, it did not, in fact, actually happen. So there’s no living in sin and fornicating, and the children are not illegitimate.

  • Rick

I should point out that I am aware that a natural (non-sacramental) marriage may also exist, and may need to be annulled, but I didn’t want to muddy the water; it doesn’t change the substance of my answer above.

  • Rick


If the couple, or one of them, knew of the impediment which invalidated their marriage, then obviously they (or that one) would be sinning. So if I marry A and then, while A is still alive, marry B, I probably know I am not validly married to B. B may or may not know this also.

An over-simplification of the Jewish answer would be:

There are three levels of sexual relationships: Where the couple is properly married; where they are merely not married; and where they are forbidden to marry (such as an incestuous couple).

When a marriage is annulled, their prior acts (which they thought were in the first category) retroactively turn out to be in the second category. So on the one hand, yes, it turns out that they were living in sin, but the sin is not as terrible as if it had been the third category. Also, it is only the child of the third category who is considered illegitimate (Hebrew: mamzer). A child of the second category is fully legitimate.

There are more details, but for this OP, I think this will suffice.

Very good point, UDS!

It goes in other directions too. What of the unfortunate case where everyone involved (including police, clergy, etc) is convinced that someone had died, and so the spouse remarries in good faith, but then the supposedly-dead spouse turns up in good health? Such cases are rare, but they unfortunately do happen. My heart goes out to everyone in such a case.

Good question.

Thanks. I’ll check out the link.

Thanks. I’ll also check this link out too.

Yeah, I thought that the answer was some where along those lines, but I wasn’t sure.

I was just limiting my question strictly to the two people who have the annulment and their marital activity before getting it, but that is a good point.

Interesting, thanks for the info.