Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

The difference between divorce and annulment

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | May 09, 2014

A great many people have trouble understanding the difference between divorce and annulment. Some even refer to annulments as “Catholic divorce”. The confusion has been exacerbated by abuses in the annulment process. Whenever the discontents of the couple after marrying lead a tribunal, in effect, to invent pre-existing impediments to get them off the hook, this confusion grows worse.

But divorce and annulment are very different things, actually opposite things. A divorce purports to dissolve a marriage. An annulment is a determination that there is no marriage to dissolve. And the reason bad tribunal work obscures the difference is simply this: A divorce proceeding must focus exclusively on the condition of the couple after the marriage ceremony. An annulment proceeding must focus exclusively on the condition of the couple before and during the marriage cermony.

In any process of divorce, the only question is: What deficiencies have emerged since you took your vows? In any process of annulment, the only question is: What deficiencies were present before and during your vows? If those deficiencies were sufficient to make matrimony impossible, then the vows accomplished nothing; marriage never really took place. As such, the putative marriage is declared non-existent. In other words, it is null.

 

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Spring Challenge Grant
Progress toward our Spring Challenge Grant goal ($25,000 to go):
$25,000.00 $0.00
100% 0%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Church Fathers: The Other Greek Apologists April 19
Mysteries, again and again! April 17
Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization April 17
The Shroud of Turin on Display (and an odd canonical case against it) April 16
The Vatican says the LCWR is acting Catholic. And that's news. April 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16
Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Finn CWN - 7 hours ago