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In the Catholic Church, what are Reasons for Annulment?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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The Catholic Church views marriage as a covenant for life, which is why divorce and remarriage are not taken lightly. The church does recognize, however, that some marriages could not work for various reasons that go beyond irreconcilable differences. The reasons for annulment are based on what took place at the time of the wedding, not later in the marriage. They range from fraud and misrepresentation, to psychological or mental incapacity on the part of one or both people. Other issues may also call for annulment in the Catholic Church, such as bigamy, external pressure to marry, or refusal to consummate the marriage.

Many of the reasons for annulment revolve around the existence of lies on the part of one or both people in the marriage. For example, lying about whether one wants or can have children is one reason for annulment, allowing the person who was deceived to remarry someone who does share their views on procreation. Lies about legal issues like past felony convictions, prior marriages, and drug addictions may also impact the decision to annul. Finally, someone filing for annulment because their spouse lied about their sexual preference or intent to be faithful is likely to successfully get the marriage declared null and void in the Catholic Church.

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If it is discovered that the marriage was entered into without the proper capacity to understand the commitment, it may be annulled. This means that someone who is too young, immature, or mentally impaired to fully understand what is expected of them can likely annul the marriage. Of course, this must be proved in some way, as annulment is usually granted on a case-by-case basis. Other similar reasons for annulment include entering the marriage only under duress, which means that one or both people felt obligated to marry each other. This may occur due to a pregnancy or arranged marriage, for example.

Some reasons for annulment in the Catholic Church have to do with the canon law of the church itself rather than federal or state laws. One reason for annulment, for example, is that the form of marriage was incorrect, meaning that the wedding ceremony was not completed in accordance with canon law. Being married to more than one person at a time, or bigamy, is also not allowed in the church, nor is marriage to a relative in most cases. One of the little-known reasons for annulment is the refusal of one person to consummate the marriage, especially since the Catholic Church sees procreation as one of the reasons for marriage in the first place. Thus, anyone who can prove this or other issues with their marriage can apply for annulment in the Catholic Church once their divorce is final.

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Logicfest
Post 2

@Vincenzo -- it's not as harsh as all that. Keep in mind that the church cannot prevent anyone from getting divorced and remarried. Courts grant divorces and the state will give out a new marriage license. The Catholic church can, however, not allow a wedding in a Catholic church unless an annulment is requested and received. Quite often, getting married in a church with the denomination's blessing is a big deal to Catholics and that is why people do go through the annulment process with the church.

That might seem a bit out of step with the times, but perhaps that's not an altogether bad thing. Check the research and you will see that Catholic couples divorce in much lower rates in the United States than protestants and people who claim no religion. Perhaps the Catholic church is doing something right in treating marriage so seriously.

Vincenzo
Post 1

It is hard to believe that, in this day and age, a church can get that involved in determining whether a couple should be married or not. That's not a criticism. It's just odd to hear people wait for years for the Catholic church to grant an annulment so they can marry again.

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