Children of an Annulled Marriage

What happens to children of an annulled marriage is something that needs to be worked out between the two parents and the courts.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a declaration that a sacramental marriage never happened: the two people were never actually married in the eyes of the Church because certain conditions failed to be met upon entering into the marriage. The purpose of marriage is to bring one’s spouse to heaven and for the bearing and raising of children, a person might consider that if a sacramental marriage did not exist then what about the children? Are the children of an annulled marriage illegitimate?

What About Children from an Annulled Marriage?

Legitimacy is a legal concept dealing primarily with inheritance. There is nothing illegitimate about children of an annulled marriage in the eyes of the Church. They can still receive the sacraments, i.e. they can be baptized, receive communion, get married or become a priest, receive confirmation, et cetera.

Canon 1137 of The Code of Canon Law states that “The children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate.” Canon 1061 of the Code of Canon Law states that “An invalid marriage is called putative if it has been celebrated in good faith by at least one of the parties, until both parties become certain of its nullity”. A putative marriage is a marriage in which at least one of the parties considered valid at the time of the marriage even though it was later declared invalid and annulled. Therefore an annulment has no bearing on the status of the legitimacy of the children within the Church.

The only way for “invalid” children, in the eyes of the church, to be born would be if both parents never thought they were getting married, which is very difficult to occur. As legitimacy is a legal concept rather than moral, it is possible that illegitimate children become rendered canonically legitimate.

So if you have the question about what happens after your parents gets their marriage annulment, do you become illegitimate or not. The answer would be that annulment has no effect on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of kids born from ant particular union. Children either are legitimate or are not, whether there was an annulment or not. Most of the time, children from an annulled marriage are still legitimate.

30 thoughts on “Children of an Annulled Marriage”

  1. There should be studies that are conducted to truly investigate the effect annulment has on children. Because I can say firsthand, it’s traumatizing. No matter what you say about how “legitimate” you are in the eyes of the Lord, when you are a child from an annulled marriage, knowing that your parents’ marriage is something that was considered to not exist in the eyes of the Church is heartbreaking and can cause trauma. Adults can reason all they want and justify things–children can’t.

  2. First of all you all need to look up the rules governing Catholic annulments. After that read the acts of the Apostles to see how the Apostles handled marriage situations that had gone wrong. Next look at what a lot of Pastors do about such situations. Finally what do you think is the best way of handling marriages where for example one husband or wife believes in free love and has never ever been faithful, marriages where full consent was lacking but were entered into due to pressure threats fear of others etc. (as was the case with someone related to me who had just been in a mental hospital), marriages where a partner in the marriages agrees to start a family and later completely refuses to have children, marriage where after the first or second attempt at having a sexual relationship, one or the other of the partners goes completely frigid and will have no more of it, cases of extreme violence towards the children or one of the partners, etc. ? If the RC Church or any other Church formally releases these people from their vows for most it will be a blessed relief for the persons concerned. Both Church and State in UK consider the children of such marriages to be legitimate. I personally feel that it is commendable that the Christian Churches are trying so diligently to walk this tightrope between trivialising the permanent vows taken during the marriage ceremony and making them meaningless and having compassion for difficult situations. There are no easy answers and when marriages go wrong people are always hurt, but in some cases staying together will cause even worse hurt ( as in cases of violence). Equally what starts Asan invalid marriage because of one party’s wrong intention at the time, can later be supported and validated for the sake of the children. For sure a valid marriage requires full knowledge and full consent of both parties. One can’t get married on a drunken impulse, or simply as a ploy to get one’s leg over a virtuous woman! That is not a valid marriage!
    I think we all need to be very careful about judging others and need great sympathy for victims especially the children of wrongly entered into marriages. Leave God tojudge the predjudiced nuns.!…..

  3. I was pregnant before we married. We had three more children after we married and were married for 23 years until I filed for divorce from an abusive man. He has had several girlfriends and has had the latest one for about a year and a half, engaging in sexual activities and shacking up for the majority of their time together. Just after they met my ex filed for an annaulment. How does a man that has been married for 23 years and have 4 children who does not practice his religion and faith have any credibility in asking for an annulment? He originally was denied an annulment but is further seeking an appeal. He has lied and made false narratives through this ordeal and will not rest until he has used my faith against me. I do not want an annulment. How can this sinister man do this to his family?

  4. I am a male whom is the youngest of four mixed race children( 2 older girls, 2 younger boys) who went to 12 years of forced Catholic Schooling, by parents whom did not participate in Catholicism (outside of sending their kids to Catholic Schools). The oldest of the children(female)was granted privilege , and like blind mice, we were all supposed to follow her footsteps and be obedient( Mexican father was military, and made promise to mother that children would be Catholic educated). I was the only child who refused to participate in any school activities during my 12 years of hell. My white mother thought she was a progressive feminist of her day to raise 4 half mixed Mexican/white children at Blessed Sacrament school and Althoff in West End Belleville, Il., in the 1970’s/ early 80’s . This neighborhood was right next to recently white fled East Saint Louis , Il. The racist old German nuns were recently kicked out of East Saint Louis and transfered to Blessed Sacrament. I begged my parents to let me go to Signal Hill and Belleville West High Shool to no avail. I can say that the principal of my 8 years at Blessed Sacrament (Mrs. Johnson) tried to get me out, but my father refused. I had to wear the same pair of pants every other day, for two days (not washed) to please my alcoholic mother whom did not want excessive laundry. Friday I could have clean pair of pants.

    West End Belleville was very wealthy and all white at the time.

    I joined the Army at 18, the child whom was the youngest, to leave the house.

    When I turned 22, my mother and father got an Annulment. I feel like my whole family threw me under the bus.

    I am a better person because of me, not Catholicism.

  5. Margaret Pauley

    Listen to what scripture says…”what God has joined.” Not all marriages are joined by God…worldly men can join themselves, believing that God joined them…but God says the heart is deceitful above all. This is why relationship with God is vital…can we personally “hear” what God is calling us to in these situations…only a God fearing person will truly hear the call on their lives. We must be very careful…

    Has not God loosed us from the chains of oppression…

    It is so very easy for someone to condemn another for breaking the “law” when they themselves have never been oppressed.

  6. You people should really understand the meaning of an annulment. It is not to say that the marriage never existed, but to say that a Sacramental Marriage never existed.
    You must understand what a Sacramental Marriage is as well.

    1. There is no such thing as an annulment. Read your Bible. It is not in there. Divorce or death is the only way a marriage can be ended. With a divorce, they must remain unmarried or reconciled, or else God says it’s adultery. Should a spouse die, the living is free to marry but only in the Lord..meaning a faithful,baptized member of the Church…read Corinthian if you have any questions..Mark as well.. No Church, man on earth has any authority to change this.. It is God’s law..the Church is called the Bride of exactly who’s name should the Church have?..this reference shows how serious God views marriage

      1. Read up on annulments and know what you’re opposing. Annulments actually help people to recognize what when wrong in their marriage and what to work on, look for and make for better relationships.
        And an annulement determines if a Sacramental Marriage existed or not. If you didn’t have a Sacramental Marriage, then technically you never had a Christian Marriage. Man’s Law of Marriage, legally married, is just a Legal contract and has nothing to do with God. That’s why two people of the same sex can legally marry.
        Annulments are extremely important and everyone who married for the reasons God wanted them to and divorces should go through the process. It can be painful to relive a failed marriage, but it helps people to move forward and it helps people to grow closer to God!!!
        Research the process and the true meaning of an annulment. Don’t just go on what people say, even Catholics without researching it.
        God Bless you

        1. I can read the definition of annulment…however it is NOT in the Bible, which is God’s law. You can’t add to or take away from HIS law without consequence. No matter what the catholic or pope or anybody else says. God has the final say on ALL matters.

          1. Per Matthew 16 and 18, Peter could write laws on Earth that would be held true in heaven, and this power was passed through successors.

            Also. Matt 19 on divorce is ambiguous. So you are bringing your own interpretation to the text from outside the bible, whether you like it or not.

            There are other biblical arguments that permit many divorces beyond apostolic succession:
            1) Divorce is permitted for sexual immorality. (Matt 19)
            2) Adultery is sexual immorality. (common sense)
            3) Looking at someone else is a form of adultery. (Sermon on the Mount)
            4) Many of us have committed (3) (common sense).
            5) Many divorces contain an element of sexual immorality. (4).
            6) Many divorces are permitted. (1 + 5)

            Also, if remarriage is adultery, then remarriage itself becomes sexual immorality, which then justifies divorce. So this problem fixes itself, though you will want to seek forgiveness after the process and come to terms with what you’ve done (which is exactly what the annulment process aims to do).

            Also, the disciples raise the possibility that it’d be better for couples not to marry. It’s unclear whether they were talking literally about celibacy, or suggesting some couples can be together without really being married. Jesus then changes the topic to eunuchs (clearly allegorical rather than literal, so unclear.) That creates the possibility there are marriages that are not sacramental marriages.

            Even if you don’t accept that, Jesus says remarriage is adultery. If you then read Jesus on adultery, in the Pericope Adulterae, he does not condemn the adulterer and dissuades others from condemning her too. There are innumerable passages about forgiveness, even if adultery was condemned.

            So now when you condemn divorce, you’re like the member of the crowd holding a stone, saying, “oh oh oh! you can’t do that!” Jesus is telling you to put down the stone and go home, you’re just causing trouble.

          2. While the Bible is the revealed word of God it is not the only source of revelation and guidance for Christians. The Holy Spirit is the Church’s continual guide and deepens and expands the church’s understanding of God’s will and truth through the ages.

            The bible as we know it did not exist until a few centuries ago. Throughout most of Western History you had to be very wealthy to own a book. I am referring to before the printing press. Even very wealthy people only had parts of the Bible. God’s word was passed on orally through the ministry of the His Church.

            The books that were considered divinely revealed were determined by the Roman Catholic Church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit long before Protestantism.

            The bible is the book of Christianity but Christianity is not a religion of the book like Judaism. Christianity is not a religion of the written word alone but of the Holy Spirit.

    2. Give me scripture in the Bible that gives permission for annulment… me the word annulment in the Bible…or civil marriage, sacraments marriage, etc..NOT in there!. Marriage is. Adultery is. Fornication is.. Mercy sakes what God must think of this “church” and evil, blasphemous pope telling people that he and some crown of fools called bishops , have the authority to change the very laws God Himself gave us and sacrificed His own Son for us in order to save us ..Daniel and the book of Thessalonian says it plain and clear about the son of perdition…and its clear as glass the catholic “church” and pope are the culprits

      1. Melissa, the Bible is a tool to be used along with common sense, meditation, prayer and discernment. Just because the word annulment isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If someone believes that a marriage may not have been validly entered into by either party, they have the right to ask a tribunal to examine all aspects of the marriage and determine it’s validity. If someone was drunk, mentally ill, underage – they could not contract a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church. If they lied and said they were open to children when they knew they were not, that makes the marriage invalid in the eyes of the church. If a Catholic gets married civilly or in another Church without the permission of the Bishop, it’s invalid. There are other things that could make a marriage invalid and I think most people will agree that we do not want to take marriage lightly so if there is ANY concern, it must be examined. It doesn’t mean that every marriage will be ruled invalid, but they need to be examined if there is a question.

        1. Gods word has the final say..not a church, pope, nothing.. God gave us in the Bible what the laws, HIS laws are on either obey Him or a church..your choice..your soul at stake..not anybody else..God or a worldly man made hard is this to comprehend…a CULT at work it seems after reading the “rules ” of that ridiculous catechism…shame in people for trying to change what God, our ONLY HOLY FATHER gave us!

          1. > Gods word has the final say..not a church, pope, nothing

            The Bible itself says that Peter (the Pope) can interpret God’s law. The Bible itself contradicts you.

          2. Our Lord established the Church. Historically the Church had been established before the Bible was put together. The apostoles and their successors collected the writings of the Scriptures. Think, we have four Gospels for example, but had been other writings too, which had been not included. The Holy Spirit guided them. Luther later took out some parts from the Bible. The `sola scripturae` – is a protestant argument. God speaks through saints too, and through the Church – His bride. God did not retired, nor Jesus, nor Virgin Mary after the Bible had been written.
            A sacramental marriage is a saint one. A non-sacramental marriage simply does not exist as marriage. God protects sacramental marriages. Jesus is the rock on which are built. If you go against it – this rock will fall on you. The sacrament of marriage is under attack. Why? jesus Himself is part of it. Sacramental marriage protects the wife, the children. Protects from all which is forbidden by the 10 commandements. People usually think that they had the obligation to keep the commandments, th 6th too. In fact are made for their protection from others too, who threspass those commandments.
            The Bible says somewhere that the illegitimate children are the witnesses of their parents sins. It is not a condamnation against children.

          3. I agree that manipulating priests to “get what you want” is sinful and wrong, and that people who abuse the system of annulments will have to repent or suffer in purgatory or hell. FYI, validly married people can still be damned if they don’t follow the ten commandments, cheat in money scheme’s, or deny their spouse children, etc. Marriage in the Church is a sacrament and God gives each spouse the grace to persevere, no matter how hard it may seem. St. Monica and St. Rita being of excellent examples. It’s sad to hear that children of annulled marriages get crucified against the Catholic Church, seeing it as wimpy or unable to back it’s own laws. “When the hireling flees, the sheep scatter.” My recommendation is for the Children, rather than be so disappointed, to be happy to take more time to study scripture, Church law, the saints, and find in the Church the fruits of redemption rather than the tragic mistakes of the clergy, which takes up volumes. There are certainly priests and even bishops and Pope’s in hell. If something causes you to sin, cut it off. If you think a valid marriage or invalid marriage is evil, don’t partner with such. Our Lady said many marriages are evil and not of God. I always wondered if that meant also blessed marriages. It seems, she was making a blanket statement. Some marriage annulments are surely to be out of purity and justice. Some are probably because the spouse seeks revenge, malice, or money. People are prone to sin. That’s why we need weekly confession amd daily Mass. For children and spouses discouraged as to why an evil person “gets away with so much,” we must stop to think how God in his great mercy, has given us, so undeserving, so much, namely, his entire life and only son. “Only in God is my soul at rest, in him is my salvation.” In our utmost charity let us strive to be pure and holy, and lead the life of St. Paul and St. Francis. Let us be the ones to be chaste. God will need let us down. Pastors can let us down, that’s why they need our fervent prayers. They need our prayers and support so they can make wise decisions. They need fruitful, faithful militant who can correct them and help save them. One way to correct fake annulments is to write letters, and exhort the clergy to a higher level of excellence. We must be patient with offenders, and pray for them. If God shows them their crimes and church abuses, and they repent, we should be happy for them. It’s sad to see men getting “rewarded” by the church for cheating on their wives. This is a call for us to seek out our own salvation with “fear and trembling.” We can see clearly this is an abomination to God. Even blessed marriages, like I said before, can become a path of the devil. I hope children of these fake annulments are not dissuaded out of the Mass. On the contrary, they should only become more fervent in their quest for salvation, seeing the weakness of the flesh, the vices and immorality it spreads. The Old testament references are to the marriage of Israel to the Law. They were so to speak, “cheating” on God by their idolatry. The best defence is forgiveness, and a firm faith and resolve to abandon vices. People are full of wickedness, and will always disappoint us. We have to purify ourselves and rely on God . A true spouse of God would be pained at the sin of annulments abuse, but unwavered in Faith. We must forge ahead, and “forget thy father’s house,” otherwise we are tempted to dispair. Why are we upset at the long suffering and goodness of God towards offenders, when we ourselves, are guilty of such damnable crimes. Let us rejoice and be glad, and move forward in a chaste manner, seeking God alone. Rebuke, entreat, say St Paul, and pray without ceasing. Amen!

          4. One way to help fake annulments is to maintain ourselves the highest standard of purity, seeing the vices of men we should be abhorred and have contempt of the world, all it’s fruitless sins and vanitites. We should be thanking our sinful parents for showing us just how wicked and fruitless the world is. Flee from sin, and it will flee from you. It’s dissapointing to see wimpy clergy falling for the tricks of adulterers. But God will not be mocked. If we are bankrupted, pillaged, and made homeless by adulterous parents, we should feel happy. The kingdom of God belongs to such, who are abandoned and dispised by the world. Let us claim victory over our own passions, and do penance and acts of Reparation. The Mass and rosary are powerful weapons. Let us rely on this and forge ahead.

      2. Sister Yearsley

        This is all unthinkable. The only acceptable option after marriage in the church and having children is perfection.

    3. No, it’s actually saying the marriage never existed, that it was invalid from the beginning and therefore never existed. You can only be married to one person in the eyes of the church, so if you marry someone, either civil, at another church, in the woids, on the beach, even if they are a different religion or believe in nothing, the Church views that as a valid marriage until it is proven, through a tribunal via annulment.

    4. Exactly. I married at 19 and got an annulment which said both parties were not mature. I never remarried and am a Senior and don’t expect to marry but the annulment is a relief.

  7. I am a catholic but my parents were not married when they had me, and i don’ think they even thought about marriage in the first place. My question is since they did not even think about marriage when they had me, will that affect what happens to me when i die and go to the after life, or will it affect me at all in restrictions of what i can do, (such as become a priest or something like that). Also i am 13 so please excuse me if i should know about this, i have not been to church in awhile as much as i wood like to go.

    1. Dylam, were you baptized in the Catholic Church (or any church?) If you are baptized in the Catholic Church, you are Catholic. What your parents do does not affect your salvation (what happens when you die). I think you should see if you can make an appointment to talk to a priest so he can answer any questions you have. But I do know that you are 100% a valid, legitimate person even if your parents were not married and were not planning on having a child. God decided when you were to be born and He loves you as much as any other person.

  8. This sounds like double talk to me. My dad (Catholic) married my mom (Prostestant) in the early 60’s, and they had three children. They were married for over 20 years. My parents divorced, and my father and stepmother now raise their two new sons in the RCC. Am I now illigitate in the eyes of RC? If there was never really a marriage, then my parents fornicated for 20 years…and now my father is a member of the RCC in good standing?!! I’m confused. Oh, by the way, my father and stepmother (both Catholic) carried on an adulterous affair (at least in the eyes of the State) for over a year before my parents divorced. How many Hail Mary’s did they have to say?

  9. This doesn’t make sense… It is like the Catholic Church is trying to have it both ways. You can’t decree a marriage is annulled ( as in it never happened) and then claim the children are legitimate. Children born of people who are not married have to be considered illegitimate if their parents where never married in the eyes of the church. It has nothing to do with inheritances.
    The bigger concern is the rules regarding annulments. To annul the marriage of a childless couple who have been married a few years is one thing, but I still don’t understand how a union of almost 25 years and three children can be considered for an annulment! I’ve considered myself an illegitimate child for almost 30 years! However as I was baptized and confirmed, I’m considered a member of the Church and thus not shunned as once was the practice of parishes towards illegitimate children, born in sin, and even their parents after divorcing, when it was much harder to get annulments.
    What ever happen to what God has joined let no man pull asunder? Divorces are legal actions by the state which had previously granted the marriage license. The blessings of children in a marriage
    Should not be a mere afterthought when the church considers annulments.
    If there are children there should be no annulments!

    1. Sister Yearsley

      I think you would have to speak with a Catholic priest about the meaning and the implications, but if I understand correctly there are different levels of commitment involved in each type of marriage. Out of wedlock birth, or natural union where the parents choose not to marry, is not a commitment made within the Church before God, angels, witnesses, Christ, Our Holy Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit. It can be in some cases recognized as a form of marriage under civil law, or common law, but does not equate the sacrament of Church marriage because no Church administration was sought and no ordinance within the Church was received. Civil marriages outside the Church are by state authority, by not by Church authority. Church marriages often are before both civil and Church authorities. Often there are marriages licenses issued by the civil authority even when a Church marriage is performed according to the ordinances of God. However the state has no authority over the Church. Obviously the state is not God, but it commonly issues a ‘ law of the land’ marriage license on application of the bride and groom who are then to be married in the Church. But the Church, not the state, determines what constitutes a sacrament. At least in the USA we have them as separate matters. Canon law belongs to the Church. So from the list of so many possibilities, practices, and varying degrees of commitment to Christ and His Church as evidenced by the faith, intent, and visible witness of that intent in the choices of the parties, it may be that a marriage might not be recognized as a sacrament administered by the Church. A few generations ago one could have a marriage under Church authority, recorded by the Church alone, without application for state license, so the separation of Church and state was perhaps then more clearly delineated. A marriage outside the Church was not considered sacramental if it was not administered by proper authority. Marriage within the Church is presumed to be and children born into the marriage are parties to the sacrament and covenant of their parents. That is partly why divorce and remarriage are not permitted, and in particular why annulment is not permitted when there are children. Their status does not change at any rate because as individuals they are, vertically speaking, In their direct relationship to Christ and our Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit, so that can not be ever be made illegitimate by any action of man or priest. That is partly why the family tends to confirm itself in that sense. Here is the consent, the document, the record in heaven, the lives lived, the true will witnessed before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is indissoluble and irrevocable for many, many reasons.

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