Can a Religious Annulment Be Contested?

Raiser and Kenniff NYC

The Purpose of a Religious Annulment A religious annulment, which is often called a declaration of nullity, is essentially a declaration that from a religious perspective, the marriage was never valid in the first place. Keep in mind that religious annulments are entirely separate from civil matters. Getting one does not absolve you of your legal responsibility towards your spouse or let you legally marry a new partner. To legally end the relationship, you will need to follow the civil procedure for divorce or annulment. However, there are still quite a few reasons that people try to obtain a religious annulment, including:

  • Removing religious requirements that you love or care for your spouse.

  • Obtaining the ability to remarry in a religious ceremony.

  • Being able to participate in church ceremonies.

  • Removing and destroying bad memories associated with a traumatic marriage.

  • Regaining the ability to be viewed as a single person for religious purposes.

Is It Possible to Contest a Religious Annulment?

If your partner has started the religious annulment process but you do not agree with them, then you may want to contest the annulment. Not all churches have the same annulment process, but typically, it is possible to contest it. After your partner petitions for an annulment, the church will most likely contact you and ask you if you want to participate in the annulment process. You can then choose to be involved, and you will have the option of presenting evidence that contests the annulment. Methods for successfully contesting an annulment vary depending on what religion you are part of. Typically, you would attempt to show that there are no grounds for annulment while your partner would be arguing that there are grounds for annulment. Common reasons to grant an annulment include:

  • One party was not able to fully give consent due to a mental impairment, fraud, misinformation about their partner, lack of freedom, fear of refusal, or lack of knowledge about what marriage entails.

  • One party did not properly give consent because they planned on ending the marriage eventually.

  • There is an impediment that kept a party from entering the marriage, such as age, previous marriage, a vow of chastity, or close familial relationships between the parties.

  • The marriage did not take place in the church, so it is just a legal marriage instead of a religious one.

  • Some essential rite, vow, or rule required to define marriage was not followed during the ceremony.

Contesting the annulment would require you to submit evidence that whatever ground your partner is claiming as a reason for nullity is not actually true. You can argue against an annulment on your own, but it is often easier to have a lawyer on your side. You will need to select a canon lawyer who has the appropriate credentials and experience to be discussing religious law with a religious court.

What Happens If You Successfully Contest a Religious Annulment?

If you manage to successfully contest your religious annulment, then the church will view you as still being married to your spouse. In these circumstances, most religions give the person who petitioned for nullity the right to appeal the sentence. They may also have the opportunity to petition for nullity again on a new ground that was not successfully overturned in the initial petition. Unless a person manages to successfully appeal and get an annulment, they will still be married to you in your religion. However, legally, they may be able to divorce you and remarry in a civil ceremony.]]>