+How To Dissolve Your Troubled Marriage
Marriage in the Catholic Church also called matrimony, is the “covernant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a parnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring and which “has been raised by Christ the Lord. But the genral notion is that Catholics hardly, if at all, divorce.
City People’s Tessy Moore, had an exclusive interview with Rev. Fr. Patrick Umoh and some other Catholic officials where they revealed the process of divorce and why it is difficult to get disolved in the Catholic Tribunal Court. Excerpts.
What do you mean by Catholic Annulment of marriage?
Annulment is an unfortunate word that is sometimes used to refer to a Catholic “declaration of nullity.” Actually, nothing is made null through the process. Rather, a Church tribunal (a Catholic Church court) declares that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union.
An annulment is commonly and incorrectly called a “Catholic divorce.” The differences between divorce and annulment can be confusing to Catholics and non- Catholics alike – especially when remarriage is a possibility. Divorce and annulment aren’t the same thing; they differ in two ways: First, divorce is a civil law decree from the state, whereas an annulment is a canon law decree from the Church. In other words: The state issues a marriage license; and the state can also issue a divorce decree. But for a Catholic marriage to be valid, it is required that: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they are capable of giving their consent to marry; (3) they freely exchange their consent; (4) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; (5) they intend the good of each other; and (6) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by Church authority.
What is the Catholic Church belief about marriage?
The Church celebrates the Sacrament of Matrimony; and only the Church can issue a Decree of Nullity (otherwise known as an annulment). The Church does not believe in divorce. The second is the existence of the marriage after a divorce or annulment: A civil divorce basically says that what was once a marriage is no longer a marriage. A previously married couple no longer has the legal obligations of husband and wife.
An annulment, on the other hand, basically says that the Sacrament of Matrimony never took place to begin with. Civil divorce ends a civil marriage; a Church annulment declares that the Sacrament of Matrimony didn’t occur from day one. Keep in mind that Church annulments are not a form of divorce and have no affect whatsoever on the legitimacy of children because that’s a purely legal (civil) matter. Annulments don’t make the children born of that union illegitimate. Annulments declare that a marriage was never a valid sacrament in the first place even if both parties entered into it with good faith and intentions.
Can a divorced Catholic marry again?
Yes, once a Decree of Nullity (annulment) has been issued by the Diocesan Tribunal.
If a person was married validly and then divorced but never obtained an annulment, then that person is still married in the eyes of the Church. He or she cannot validly marry again in the Catholic Church. Remarriage isn’t out of the question for Catholics: Like the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the Sacrament of Matrimony can take place only once, unless one spouse dies. Due to the lifelong commitment that’s required for the Sacrament of Matrimony, Catholics can marry only someone who’s widowed or who wasn’t married before.
If a person was previously married and the spouse is alive, it must be demonstrated that the marriage was invalid, so the previous union can be declared null and void through an annulment. If that happens, both parties are free to marry someone else – the Church hopes validly this time.
Why does the Church require a divorced Catholic to obtain a declaration of nullity in the church before marrying again?
In fidelity to Jesus’ teaching, the Church believes that marriage is a lifelong bond (see Matt 19:1-10); therefore, unless one’s spouse has died, the Church requires the divorced Catholic to obtain a declaration of nullity before marrying someone else. The tribunal process seeks to determine if something essential was missing at the moment of consent, that is, the time of the wedding. If so, the Church can declare that a valid marriage was never actually brought about on the wedding day.
What does the tribunal process involve?
Several steps are involved. The person who is asking for the declaration of nullity – the petitioner – submits written testimony about the marriage and a list of persons who are familiar with the marriage. These people must be willing to answer questions about the spouses and the marriage. If the other spouse did not co-sign the petition, the tribunal will contact that spouse – the respondent – who has a right to be involved. In some cases the respondent does not wish to become involved; the case can still move forward.
Based upon the information that was submitted, a tribunal official will determine the process that is to be followed. Regardless of the selected process, both the petitioner and the respondent will be able to read the testimony submitted, except that protected by civil law (for example, counseling records). Each party may also appoint a Church advocate to represent him or her before the tribunal. A representative for the Church, called the defender of the bond, will argue for the validity of the marriage.
If the tribunal decides in favor of the nullity of the marriage, the parties are then free to marry in the Catholic Church, unless an appeal of the decision is lodged or the decision includes a prohibition against one or both of the parties marrying until certain underlying issues have been resolved (see Code of Canon Law, 1682.1).
Is a divorced Catholic excommunicated?
No, civil divorce does not mean a person is excommunicated. A civil divorce in itself, while tragic, does not damage a person’s communion with the Church, and so divorced persons can participate in the entire sacramental life of the Church and they are encouraged to widely participate in the life of the parish. Remarrying after a divorce without receiving a prior declaration of nullity does damage a person’s communion with the Church, not because the Church rejects this person but because he or she has chosen a to live in a relationship that is in violation of his or her previous wedding vows. All of us struggle to live in full accord with the gospel, a person in this situation is still a beloved member of the parish community, and should participate in parish life as fully as possible. A person who persists in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage, in any situation but including remarriage after divorce without a declaration of nullity, should.sot present themselves for sacramental communion but instead should seek a spiritual communion, praying for God to dwell more fully in his or her heart.
Can a Catholic marry a divorced non-Catholic in the Church?
Yes, once the non-Catholic’s prior marriage has received a Decree of Nullity (annulment) from the Diocesan Tribunal. All non-Catholic marriages, both religious and civil are presumed to be valid by our Church.
Why is a marriage between two non-Catholics required to receive a Decree of Nullity before the non-Catholic can be married in the Church to a Catholic?
The Church believes that one can have but one valid marriage relationship at a time. Since all marriages are presumed to be valid and since the Church does not recognize civil divorce of a valid marriage the non-Catholic marriage must face the same scrutiny as the Catholic marriage and be declared invalid before another marriage is allowed in the Church.
I am a divorced Catholic and my prior marriage was not performed before a priest, deacon or bishop (it was before the justice of the peace or another Church). What is my status?
Your prior marriage was invalid (unless you received a dispensation from form) since it did not follow the required form of marriage required for Catholics. Y ou may file an administrative process, called Lack of Form, which is very simple, takes less than thirty days and has a fee of $50. You would then be free to marry in the Church.
What is a Decree of Nullity (annulment)?
This is ajudicial decree from the Church issued at the end of a process studying the details of a marriage to determine if at the time of consent (the day of the marriage) there was some element of marriage required under Canon Law that was missing, resulting in a defective or invalid marriage. If the decree is affirmative, both parties would be able to be married in the Church. If negative they would not be able to seek marriage in the Church.
What are the reasons for an invalid marriage?
There are many different and sometimes complex grounds for granting a Decree of Nullity, including: Force or fear, intention against fidelity, children or permanence, error regarding essential elements of marriage, inability to assume the obligations of marriage and others.
Does this mean that the marriage did not take place? What about the legitimacy of the children?
No, the marriage existed but was invalid in the eyes of the Church. This has no effect on the civil aspects of marriage, divorce, alimony, or on the status of the children.
Are all cases granted a Decree of Nullity?
No, the process in each case is the search for the truth of the’ question of validity on the day of the marriage. This is done by the presentation of testimony and evidence. Each case must receive an affirmative judgment at the first instance court and a second affirmative judgment at the appeal court, which is automatically forwarded by law. The process and rules are complex and structured to achieve the finding of the truth with moral certainty.
I am a Catholic, my present marriage was not performed before a priest or deacon, I was married outside the Church, what is my status for receiving communion?
Since you did not follow the form of marriage required for Catholics under Canon Law, you are not considered married in the eyes of the Church. Until you have the marriage validated, (blessed) you may not receive communion. You are still a member of the Church, are not excommunicated, and required to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. We encourage you to come to a priest or deacon at communion time to be blessed or to receive a “spiritual communion” in the pew. The Church strongly encourages you to visit with a priest or deacon to discuss your situation. There is no such thing as an “impossible situation”. With God nothing is impossible.
What does the Catholic Church really teach about divorce? Isn’t an annulment just a Catholic divorce? If I am Catholic and divorced can I remarry? Can a divorced Catholic receive communion?
These are common questions that we answer.
What does the Catholic Church teach about divorce?
The Catholic Church does not permit divorce for valid sacramental marriages. In fact a valid sacramental marriage is impossible to dissolve thereby making divorce not possible if the marriage was sacramental.
In maniage. the two become one flesh in a union joined bv God. (Mark 10:8). Jesus speaks about diviorce: “Therefore what God has joined together. no human being must separate:’ (Mark 10:9). So for a marriage that meets the requirements of being a sacrament. divorce in the Catholic Church is not possible.
The annulment process is by which a marriage is determined whether or not it is valid. it is not a Catholic divorce process. If it found to be invalid (not meeting the requirements of a sacramental marriage) then an annulment would be granted.
Marriage directly pdrallels our relationship with God. God is 100% faithful in his relationship with us those who choose to get married are called to the same faithfulness.
What about if one spouse is abusive or unfaithful?
There are some cases where living together has become too difficult or practically impossible. The Church pennits a phvsical separation of the spouses and living apart, but the two still remain married until an annulment is granted (if applicable). “The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in tidelitv to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1649).
Isn’t an annulment just a Catholic divorce?
No. An annulment is not a Catholic divorce. bur rather says that the marriage never met the conditions to be considered sacramental. If at least one criterion for sacramental marriage was not met then the maniage can be considered invalid and an annulment will be granted.
The annulment process is often long. usually lasting about a year or longer: the people who make up the maniage triblmal for your diocese must perform extensive research in determining if an annulment can be granted.
If I am Catholic and divorced can I get remarried?
Perhaps. but only if YOU have received an annulment (which means your previous marriage was not considered a valid sacrament). Ifvou receive a civil divorce. but no annulment. then you are still married to the other person in the eyes of the Church and would be committing adultery if you married another. Jesus says. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another. commits adultery against her and if she divorces her husband and marries another. she commits adultery.” (Mark 10: 11-12).
If I am divorced Can I still receive communion?
If your previous marriage was not annulled and you chose to remain, then no. because you would be in adulterous relationship and in a state of mortal sin. Otherwise it is perfectly acceptable to receive the Eucharist if you are divorced.