Faith/Spirituality Forum: Anullment for domestic violence

Anullment for domestic violence QUESTION from Stelucia August 4, 2001
Is domestic violence a ground for marriage anullment? After many years of physical and mental abuse I was evicted by my (now) former husband from our marital home, being forced to leave my two sons behind me.
I have now divorced him, getting custody of my sons and settled down very well in my new life. My ex husband has remarried with a non-Catholic and has got another child.
I am a practising Catholic. During confession, the priest advised me to seek marriage anullment. In what circumstances domestic violence is a ground for anullment? And what will be the status of my sons in such circumstances? I cannot tell them: the marriage was invalid hence your are illegitimate. What can I do?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 31, 2001 Dear Mrs. Stelicia:
Sorry to hear about your marriage. We will be in prayer for you and your family, and for your ex.
First of all, the status of your children IS NOT CHANGED. Your children DO NOT become illegitmate if you get an annulment. Legitimacy is an issue of law. If you were legally married when you had the children, the children are legitimate.
An annulment from the Church does not speak to the legality of your marriage (that is determined by civil law), it determines, rather, that your marriage was not a SACRAMENTAL marriage and thus there was no marriage sacramentally before God.
If your marriage was not sacramental, then it was no real marriage in the eyes of God and the Church, even though it was still a LEGAL marriage in the eyes of the State. Since your children were born to a couple who were legally married, they are fully and FOREVER legitimate.
Now as for grounds for an annulment within the Church, domestic violence in-and-of-itself is not grounds, but it is certainly a symptom, a strong symptom, for issues that are grounds.
In all liklihood, your marriage to this man can be annulled. You need to begin the process and let the Church investigate and decide. The process can take a year, so you might want to get started now.
Follow your priest's advice. Apply for an annulment. This has NO EFFECT on your children. They REMAIN legitimate.
If you need to explain this to them, perhaps say depending on their age: Your mommy and daddy were legally married and so you are fully legitimate. But our marriage was not marriage in the eyes of God and so the Church annuled the marriage. But we were still legally married, so you boys are fully legitimate.
God Bless.
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