Pope Francis announced this Tuesday that the Catholic Church would streamline the process for Catholics to obtain annulments. Traditionally, Catholics have been required to obtain annulments in order to remarry and still receive Holy Communion, a principle sacrament in the Catholic faith. This meant that even if divorced by governing state law, Catholics were additionally required by the Church to seek an annulment through the Church in order to fully participate in the Church.
The announcement was made through two “motu propio,” which are documents issued solely by the Pope. Per the new policy, which goes into effect on December 8th, Catholics will now be able to quickly obtain an annulment from the Church. The new Canon law dictates that the process should not extend beyond forty-five days and that the costs of annulment should be reduced to nominal fees to cover administrative costs. Catholics who were victims of spousal abuse or whose spouse committed adultery will be provided an even quicker route to annulment.
An annulment by the Catholic Church is wholly separate from the legal process of obtaining a divorce or annulment pursuant to state law. In North Carolina, an annulment is only permitted under certain circumstances. Under North Carolina law, an annulment is a voiding of the marriage, which effectively acts as if the marriage never occurred. There are five reasons in North Carolina law which warrant an annulment:
1. A marriage between family members.
2. If one spouse is not of legal age to be married.
3. If either party is impotent.
4. If either party lacks the mental capacity to enter into marriage.
5. If one spouse consents to the marriage under false pretenses.
An annulment voids the marriage, effective immediately upon the Judge entering an order. An annulment can generally be sought anytime after the marriage and those seeking an annulment do not have to live separate and apart from one another for more than 365 days to be granted an annulment.
If you have questions about an annulment, please contact us today at: (704) 810-1400 to schedule a consultation.