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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 07 Mar 2002

marriage annulment QUESTION from Gerianne Tinsley December 27, 1999 I am a divorced catholic. I have been so for about 12 years. I was married for about six years. Two children were born out of this marriage. Shortly after the birth of our second child, my husband left me for another woman. He filed for divorce. I petitioned for a period of reconciliation through the court in an effort to save the marriage, but was denied. I don't know that I'll ever want to remarry, but it would be a very difficult decision knowing that I would basically be giving up the gift of receiving sacraments. Maybew I've given you information that you don't need and left out information that would be needed, but I was wondering what my chances of receiving an annulment through the church might be, and what the process would be to obtain such an annulment. I would appreciate any information you could give me!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on December 28, 1999 Dear Mrs. Tinsley:
Thank you for writing.
The issue at question is whether your marriage was a sacramental marriage. If it was, then you are still married in the eyes of the Church. If it wasn’t, then the Church can declare your marriage null and you would be free to re-marry.
Thus the quintessential question is: Was your marriage sacramental? Only the Church can answer that. You can’t. I can’t.
Thus what you need to do is contact your pastor, or the marriage tribunal office at your diocese. They will get your started on the paperwork. It was take a year or longer to get the final decision of the Church.
You do not have to worry about whether your ex-husband will cooperate. His cooperation is not necessary. The Church will contact him, but if he doesn’t respond the Church will go ahead with the proceedings.
From the little you have described, it is possible that your marriage may not have been sacramental due to immaturity. But, only the Church can determine that.
You have nothing to lose. I would recommend going through the process. The process is for almost everyone a healing process regardless of what the Church finally decides. I have been through it myself.
The process is to talk with a marriage tribunal counselor who will help you fill out the paperwork. You will need to write an essay about your marriage and give other information about your life. Also you will have to give the last known address of your ex, plus the names and addresses of anyone who knows about your marriage who is willing to attest to the kind of marriage you had and the kind of person you were back then.
All this is given to the Church and that is basically the end of it as far as your involvement. Sometime later you will get a letter with the Church’s decision.
It is worth doing. Whatever happens, trust in God, obey His Love. Resist the temptation to step out of fellowship with Him. It is never worth it. Remaining in God's loving arms in full communion is what He wants and what we need to always strive for. Trust in Him for whatever happens with this.
God bless.
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