Very Rev. Daniel Moll, JCL
Adjunct Judicial Vicar
Very Rev. Timothy Ferguson, JCL, STL
Defenders of the Bond
Rev. Benedetto Paris, JCL
Rev. John Shiverski
Rev. Francis DeGroot
Rev. Michael Chenier
Rev. Bradley Sjoquist
Although not every marriage is a sacrament, each and every marriage (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Non-believers, etc.) is presumed to be a valid marriage. This is why even a non-Catholic is required to obtain an annulment of a previous marriage if the non-Catholic wishes to marry in the Catholic Church.
Therefore, when it can be proven that a specific marriage is not a true marriage as the Church defines it, there is a possibility that the Church will dissolve it or declare it to be invalid. This would happen only after conducting a thorough and careful investigation according to the law and jurisprudence of the Church.
Everyone has the right to apply for an investigation of his or her own former marriage. The application is made to the Marriage Tribunal which has proper jurisdiction, i.e., usually the Tribunal in the diocese where the marriage in question took place, or in the diocese where either of the two parties currently live.
In the United States, Church annulments have no civil effects. An annulment does not mean a marriage ceremony or relationship never existed. Therefore, an annulment DOES NOT effect the legitimacy of children in Civil or in Church Law.
Bishop John Doerfler's Message on Declarations of Nullity: Reconciliation and Healing – A Pastoral Message on Declarations of Nullity