Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
A decree or judgment by a competent ecclesiastical court that a reputed marriage is invalid and hence no marriage was contracted in the first place. Even when entered in good faith, an invalid marriage requires that it be dissolved or regulated by revalidation. The chief ground for nullity is the proved absence of free consent to enter a permanent marital union according to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Since the Second Vatican Council, local bishops have been given jurisdiction over many nullity cases previously reserved to the Holy See (Etym. Latin nullus, none, not any.)