An annulment is a determination by a church or state authority that a marriage is invalid. It's different from a divorce in that once annulled, the marriage is declared void, and it's as if the marriage never took place. Annulments are usually mentioned in relation to the Catholic Church. This is because the church believes marriage is a lifelong contract, according to Idotaketwo.com. For this reason, divorced Catholics must get an annulment before they can remarry in the church. Getting an annulment in the Catholic Church can be a long and involved process. Although it's hard to say exactly how long it will take, most annulments are generally completed in around 16 months, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn.
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To apply for an annulment, you must first contact your parish priest. He'll submit your application to a tribunal. The tribunal will look at your case and determine if an annulment can be granted. When applying, you must give the priest the baptismal certificates of yourself and your former spouse, your marriage certificate and the divorce decree. You must also supply the address of your former spouse, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud.
You'll have to describe for the church, in either a taped interview or a written narrative, the specifics of your former marriage. You'll have to talk about the childhood of both yourself and your former spouse. The tribunal will want to know what the dating process was like and why the two of you decided to marry in the first place. You must describe the problems in your marriage and how you tried to solve them. The church will also interview two to three people who "knew you prior to and during your marriage and can give information about the marriage," according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud. Your former spouse will also be interviewed.
Grounds for an Annulment
The Church takes many factors into account when granting an annulment. These include "concealing the truth about capacity or desire to have children, for example, or about a pre-existing marriage, drug addiction, felony convictions, sexual preference or having reached the age of consent," according to Idotaketwo.com. A marriage can also be annulled if the marriage was never consummated or if bigamy or incest were involved.
You won't be able to set a wedding date until your previous marriage has been officially annulled. Your application might be rejected by either the original tribunal or an appellate court. Even if the tribunal grants you the annulment, your previous spouse may decide to appeal the decision to a higher court. The outcome is uncertain, and for this reason, no serious wedding plans can be made until "the declaration of nullity has been received and confirmed" according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud.
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