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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Decree of Anullment

by Catherine Frakas 20 Oct 2001

Decree of Anullment QUESTION from Ally on January 2, 2002 I am engaged to a non-catholic man, who was divorced approximately ten years ago. He has two children with his ex-spouce, however he has not seen them during these ten years; She lives a new life with the children in an undisclosed location to us. this was not my fiance's choice - she left the marriage, took the children, filed for divorce, and then sent the completed paperwork to him after the fact.
We are now engaged to be married, and had selected our wedding date six months ago for June of 2002. My catholic priest informed us that we must obtain a Decree of Nullity in order to be married in my church. He told us that it will take at least one-year to receive the anullment, and that we should cancel our wedding date. I am devestated. I want desperately to be married in a catholic ceremony, and my family has already began numerous wedding plans including submission of various downpayments to many wedding vendors.
My questions are: - Can his anullment be granted in less than six months? - Will the church allow an anullment for him? - Is there a cost to anull a marraige? - Do we need an attorney, or is this strictly a religious formality?
To make the situation even more complex, we reside in Texas, and were planning to be married in New York where my family resides. My priest suggested that I find a priest in Texas to begin the anullment process, stating that it's very long and tedious, and we would be better to find someone close to us who can then pass along the necessary paperwork to him. He also mentioned that my fiance's ex-spouse must be notified of his anullment intentions, but we don't even know where to begin looking for her. What should we do at this point? I'm so overwhelmed.
Thank you for your help.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on March 11, 2002 Dear Miss Ally:
Sorry to take so long to answer.
It typically takes about one year to get through the anullment process. It depends upon the diocese and how backlogged they are. The chances of getting an anullment in six months is VERY low.
As for whether the church will grant him an anullment, only God knows. Under the circumstances that your describe, however, I don't think that will be a problem.
The Church will try to contact his former wife. But is they cannot contact her, the process will continue without her. This problem WILL NOT prevent the anullment.
As for costs, there is usually a small fee to help defray the administrative costs. Mine was $200. But NO ONE is turned away for lack of money. One can pay in installments or not at all and the anullment process will continue anyway.
You do not need a civilian attorney. The Church provides you with an advocate. You do not go to court.
The process is to be interviewed, fill out paperwork, give a bio of oneself and one's marriage, gather affidavits from family or friends who can attest to what the marriage was like, and any comments from the former spouse if she can be found.
After the paperwork is filed one just waits until they hear from the Tribunal.
But you WILL need to delay your marriage until after the anullment process is finished.
If you get married without this anullment you will be sinning and will be barred from the Sacraments.
Regardless of the inconvenience, for the love of God we need to do things the right way.
File the anullment right away, and then patiently wait for the results.

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