Annulments: What they are and what they are not
An annulment is a declaration that – despite outward appearances and good faith – the couple has not entered into a union that has all the content necessary for marriage.
The Church does not accept that divorce can sever the actual bond of a valid marriage. However, not every marital relationship meets the standard that Christ established for marriages. For a marriage to be considered valid by the Catholic Church, it is required that:
- the spouses are free to marry,
- they are capable of giving their consent to marry,
- they freely exchange their consent,
- in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another, and be open to children,
- they intend the good of each other; and
- their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized minister.
An annulment IS NOT a Catholic divorce.
Divorce ends a presumably valid marriage within the context of civil law. An annulment declares that the marriage was invalid as a sacrament within the context of the Church.
An annulment DOES NOT cost a great deal of money.
In fact, the process of annulment is done at NO CHARGE in the Diocese of Charlotte unless the work is performed outside ordinary avenues or if the Tribunal’s decision is appealed to a higher court.
An annulment DOES NOT affect the legitimacy of children born into the union. (This is true for civil law as well as Church law.)
An annulment DOES NOT affect distribution of assets or custody of children.
Does being divorced mean I cannot receive Holy Communion?
Being granted an annulment DOES NOT prevent anyone access to the sacraments – including the Eucharist. However, mortal sin (such as entering into a sexual relationship with someone other than the original spouse who is still living) would prohibit access to the Eucharist.
The annulment process DOES NOT begin until after the civil divorce process has been completed.
Marriage is a serious commitment and couples considering an annulment have an obligation to try and reconcile. Every reasonable effort should be made to heal division and restore marital life. Only after the civil divorce process is complete is it apparent that the parties are no longer willing to attempt reconciliation.