The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is
an intimate partnership of life and love, arising from the irrevocable consent
of husband and wife. This partnership is characterized by indissolubility and
fidelity and is ordained by God for the procreation and education of children.
For those who have been baptized, Christ raises the marital relationship to the
dignity of a sacrament. The Church presumes every marriage (Catholic,
Protestant, Jewish, non-believer) to be a valid marriage until the opposite is
proven. When a relationship has ended and a civil divorce has been obtained,
any person may petition the Church to investigate if there are grounds for
declaring that marriage invalid on the basis of some impediment, a defect in
the person's consent or the lack of some essential element of the marital
union. We have a sacred duty to respond to such a petition and to declare,
whether a true marriage ever existed under Catholic Canon Law.
What is an Annulment?
An ecclesiastical annulment is a formal declaration by the Church that a
particular relationship was not a valid union from the very beginning. It
differs from a divorce. In the United States, an ecclesiastical annulment has
no effect in civil law. Such matters as the legitimacy of children, property
rights, etc. are in no way affected by a declaration of nullity. An annulment
process will not be initiated until a divorce decree has been obtained.
Why is an Annulment
Christ taught that marriage is meant to be a
permanent and faithful union, a sacred bond which, if valid, cannot be broken
by any human authority. Thus, a divorced person, seeking a new marriage in the
Catholic Church, cannot be permitted to marry in the Church until it has
investigated the circumstances of the previous union to determine whether a
true bond ever existed. If invalid, the parties to that union are considered
free to marry in the Church. The actual history of the marriage and what led to
the breakdown of the marital relationship, will be investigated. The guidelines
used in the investigation of the circumstances involved in the marital
situation are The Sacred Canons of the Catholic Church.
How do I obtain the