The Catholic Church: New Initiative for Annulments

One of the most basic tenets in Catholicism is the sacrament of marriage. In order for a marriage to be valid in the eyes of God, an authorized priest or deacon must marry Catholics in the Church.

Divorce, by its nature, contradicts the teachings of Jesus. “What God has joined together, no man may separate” Mark 10:9; Matthew 19:6. However, the Church recognizes that not everyone who is divorced is to blame, and divorce does not prevent a person from receiving Holy Communion. The Church encourages those who are divorced to stay active, attend Mass, and pray.

By the Church’s traditions and to protect the sanctity of marriage, if someone is divorced, he or she should live as a single person and not live with another partner, until his or her marriage is annulled. By divine teaching, people who remarry without an annulment from the Church should not partake in Holy Communion.

An annulment is a proclamation made by the Church that for some reason the marriage was invalid from its inception. This could occur if fraud, coercion, psychological incapacity to live the obligations of marriage, lack of intention to be faithful, or lack of openness to life, or sometimes, addictions, etc. are apparent at the onset of the marriage. In these cases, the Church may grant an annulment, enabling a person to marry again in the Church.

Historically, annulments through the Church were an extensive, arduous, and expensive process. First, the Archdioceses had asked for a fee of $1,200 to reimburse the expense of the process. Second, the tribunal often had to take time getting authorization to proceed from other diocese in foreign jurisdictions. Third, there also used to be an automatic appeal to a second tribunal for affirmative judgments.

Today, Pope Francis, the Archdiocese, Judicial Vicar, and priests around New York have made strides to streamline this process, making it easier and quicker to annul a marriage. Some key points of the new initiative include: no fees for the annulment process; a quicker turnaround time (4-6 months) once the person submits all the required documentation and paperwork, and there are no unforeseen complications; a simplified process of jurisdiction in that a person can file the petition for annulment in whatever diocese he or she lives regularly; and the automatic appeal has been eliminated to save time. The grounds for annulment are ultimately the same.

Like matrimonial practitioners, the Catholic Church, wants to make the process easier for people. Both acknowledge that closure is essential to affording people the ability to move on with their lives. Our office is dedicated to helping our clients create a new healthy and happy life. Along with contacting your local parish, our office can help make the divorce process simpler and smoother. Please do not hesitate to reach out for us for assistance.

Contact us for any questions relating to divorce at 914-761-2300.

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