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Ten Common Annulment Myths

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Ten Common Annulment Myths

By A.E.P.

Summary: Discussion of ten commonly held myths regarding annulments.

Keywords: Decree of Nullity, Annulment, Annulments, Annulment Myths, Myths Regarding Annulment, Divorce, Marriage, Matrimony

In this article, I will attempt to address 10 common annulment+ myths:

* Myth 1: Annulments are the same as 'divorces'

* Myth 2: An annulment can end a valid marriage

* Myth 3: The Church has the power to end a valid marriage via an annulment

* Myth 4: Anyone can get an annulment

* Myth 5: My spouse cheated on me so I can get an annulment

* Myth 6: My spouse left me so I can get an annulment

* Myth 7: My spouse has 'remarried' so I can get an annulment

* Myth 8: You can't get an annulment if you have been together for a very long time

* Myth 9: Someone who has obtained an annulment can remarry

* Myth 10: You can have only one valid annulment

Myth 1: Annulments are the same as 'divorces'

Fact: Annulments are NOT the same as 'divorces'. A 'divorce' purports to end a marriage. An annulment declares that a valid marriage never really existed in the first place (even if it appeared otherwise).

Myth 2: An annulment can end a valid marriage

Fact: An annulment does NOT and can NOT end a valid marriage, nor does it intend to do so. Rather, an annulment simply declares that a valid marriage never really existed in the first place (even if it appeared otherwise).

Myth 3: The Church has the power to end a valid marriage via an annulment

Fact: A valid sacramental marriage can NOT be ended in any manner by any authority outside of death. The Church has no power to end a valid marriage (and, despite what the State may like you to think, it certainly has no power to end a valid marriage). Once a couple is validly married, they are married for life. Even if they obtain a 'divorce' by some civil authority, they are still married in the eyes of God. NOTHING whatsoever other than the death of one of the spouses ends a valid sacramental marriage. As Jesus has said, "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Lk. 16:18) This teaching is also reinforced in other passages of Holy Scripture, such as Mt. 5:31-32, Mt 19:3-9, and Mk 10:2-12. Therefore, it is clear that the couple remains married even if they have obtained a 'divorce'. Clearly, the persons could not commit 'adultery' unless they were still married.

Furthermore, it should be noted that Holy Scripture says the following regarding those guilty of violations of the 6th commandment which forbids adultery [referring to adultery that is unrepented & NOT to those who repent of their adultery and right their situation]: "Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9)

As has been expressed in Church law...

"A ratified and consummated valid marriage can be dissolved by no human power and for no cause, outside of death." (1917 Code of Canon Law, Can. 1118)

"A marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death." (1983 Code of Canon Law, Can. 1141)

Myth 4: Anyone can get an annulment

Fact: Only those who never had a valid marriage to begin with are eligible for an annulment [e.g. those who never intended to be married for life, those who had an impediment (e.g. one of them was already married, they were close relatives, etc.)]

Myth 5: My spouse cheated on me so I can get an annulment

Fact: Annulments have nothing to do with the treatment of either spouse once married. While this is an unfortunate situation, you would still not be eligible for an annulment unless your marriage was NEVER valid to begin with. If your marriage was valid to begin with, it is still valid and therefore you would not be eligible for an annulment, even if your spouse was unfaithful. The purpose of an annulment isn't to end a valid marriage, but rather to declare that a valid marriage never existed in the first place. If the marriage was valid in the beginning, the spouses remain validly married until one of them dies, regardless of how the spouses treat each other.

Myth 6: My spouse left me so I can get an annulment

Fact: Annulments have nothing to do with the treatment of either spouse once married. While this is an unfortunate situation, you would still not be eligible for an annulment unless your marriage was NEVER valid to begin with. If your marriage was valid to begin with, it is still valid and therefore you would not be eligible for an annulment, even if your spouse has abandoned you. The purpose of an annulment isn't to end a valid marriage, but rather to declare that a valid marriage never existed in the first place. If the marriage was valid in the beginning, the spouses remain validly married until one of them dies, regardless of how the spouses treat each other.

Myth 7: My spouse has 'remarried' so I can get an annulment

Fact: Annulments have nothing to do with the fact that your spouse believes he/she is 'remarried'. While it is unfortunate that your spouse thinks they are "remarried", you would still not be eligible for an annulment unless your marriage to this person was NEVER valid to begin with. If your marriage was valid to begin with, it is still valid and therefore you would not be eligible for an annulment, even if your spouse has taken up with another person (remember that you are STILL MARRIED to each other, even if your spouse thinks he/she is married to someone else - rather, you two are married and the two of them continually commit adultery). The purpose of an annulment isn't to end a valid marriage, but rather to declare that a valid marriage never existed in the first place. If the marriage was valid in the beginning, the spouses remain validly married until one of them dies, regardless of what some may want to believe - we have Our Lord's word on it.

Myth 8: You can't get an annulment if you have been together for a very long time

Fact: Annulments have nothing to do with the amount of time involved. An annulment declares that a valid marriage never existed in the first place. The mere passage of time cannot make an invalid marriage valid.

Myth 9: Someone who has obtained an annulment can remarry

Fact: Someone who has obtained an annulment can marry, but not remarry. If they have obtained a valid annulment, they were never married to begin with (despite how things may have looked) so if they subsequently enter a valid marriage, they are not getting "remarried", but are getting married for the first time. [This of course excludes cases of widows / widowers who could validly remarry after the death of their spouse.]

Myth 10: You can have only one valid annulment

Fact: It is possible that someone could have multiple annulments if they continued to enter into unions that were not valid sacramental marriages. Of course, this situation should not occur (and most likely would present a grave threat to one's soul).

One final note: It does appear that there has been much abuse in the annulment process since Vatican II. While some may have lied or otherwise wrongly participated in declaring a valid marriage null, that doesn't change the truth of the above. Any who lied or otherwise corrupted the process will find that they must answer for their actions at the terrible judgment. Such persons would do well to keep in mind that marriage was part of God's plan in the very beginning and it was confirmed and strengthened by Our Lord Jesus Christ, who performed His first miracle at a wedding and is Himself referred to in marital terms in Holy Scripture in association with the Church (see Ephesians Chapter 5). Those who harm marriage do so at their own risk.

Signature ImageSignature: A.E.P.

+ Note: This article uses popular terminology. An 'annulment' is correctly called a Decree of Nullity.


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