The decision to get married has multiple consequences. Most couples have a wedding that is sanctioned both by civil and their private religious authorities. Those who choose to get married in accordance with the rules of the Catholic church may face specific obstacles if they choose to dissolve the marriage. Anyone planning this course of action should be aware of the steps necessary to get what is known as an annulment. An annulment is an actual agreement from the church that the marriage never happened. The annulment means that the person is not considered married in the first place and may decide to marry with the full sanction of church officials. People who have been through a legal divorce may be looking at this option once they decide they would like to get married again. Any party seeking this course of action should keep in mind that any annulment is entirely up to church officials. It cannot be ordered by any outside source including the American judicial system. All those seeking this course of action should also keep in mind that the annulment cannot serve as a substitute for a divorce. That is a matter for the courts to settle legally.
Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches
Different religions have differing laws in regards to an annulment. Two churches that have a highly formal procedure for the annulment are the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Anyone seeking an annulment can begin by contacting the church and letting them know they would like to have an annulment. The process continues as people stand in front of church court that is designed to seek out the facts related to their original marriage. The spouse that is requesting the annulment will be asked to present all of their evidence as to why they are entitled to this course of action. Church officials do not require the other person to be present at this time. They do not require the person seeking the annulment to even notify the other party that they have decided to do so. The other spouse is not required to present evidence as to why the annulment should not be granted. Church officials will careful examine the evidence presented and then make a ruling. The ruling may be quick or may take some time to complete. Any ruling issued by this religious court is considered valid in other courts. For example, if the person seeks an annulment in a Roman Catholic church in New York, that annulment applies to all locations. Under church laws, church officials in a different location cannot refuse to admit the validity of that divorce in their parish. The parish priest also cannot refuse to agree to marry the person in a religious ceremony.
Other Types of Annulment
Other religious organizations also offer a form of annulment that is similar to that offered by the Roman Catholic and Christian Orthodox church. The Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons discourage divorce. However, they have what is known as an unsealing procedure. This only applies to women not men. In Islam, a man may easily choose to divorce a woman without necessarily resorting to a court system. At the same time, a woman has the right to speak to a religious court. She can ask the religious court to agree to annul her marriage. This is not an automatic right. It may only apply in certain circumstances. Protestant churches do not recognize an annulment. The same is true of Judaism. Jews who marry religiously have what is known as a ketubah or religious agreement. This agreement can be broken and serves as a form of divorce.
Any kind of annulment does not have the force of law behind it. All issues related to the divorce such as custody arrangements, the division of property and an agreement for child or spousal support cannot be worked out this way. They must go through the formal court system in order to be resolved. The annulment is largely a personal and religious matter with little application to the process of legal divorce. However, it can help couples work things out in other ways. A couple may prefer to have an annulment rather than a legal divorce. In all cases, it is best to speak closely with a legal expert during any kind of annulment, separation and divorce proceedings. They can help the client determine the best legal course of action for their desired results.
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