Children of an Annulled Marriage

2015-03-16 12-49-58 marriage-kids-900cs052413.jpg 900×522 pixelsWhat happens to children of an annulled marriage is something that needs to be worked out between the two parents and the courts.

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?

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.


  1. Chris B says

    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.

  2. Margaret Pauley says

    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.

  3. Kyle J Doise says

    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.

    • Melissa says

      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

      • Kyle Doise says

        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

        • Melissa says

          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.

    • Melissa says

      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

      • Ann says

        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.

        • Melissa says

          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!

      • Sister Yearsley says

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

    • Ann says

      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.

    • Vicki G. says

      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.

  4. dylan says

    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.

    • Ann says

      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.

  5. John says

    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?

  6. Lisa Gagnon says

    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!

    • Sister Yearsley says

      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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