Annulments and the Permanence of Marriage

Recently on Trending with Timmerie, listener Ben wrote into the show to ask about divorce and whether an annulment was necessary for him to return to the dating scene.

Ever since the sexual revolution, the divorce rate has hovered around 50%. As of recent, that rate has dropped, but only because so few people have been getting married. Those who are able to get married and stay married are the majority of people doing it.

There is so much collateral damage from divorces, especially if there are children involved or, as in Ben’s case, one of the spouses didn’t want to go through with it. Timmerie acknowledged that this topic is so important because of cases like this where people are left abandoned and just want to move on with their lives.

Unfortunately, as difficult as it may be, if you get divorced, you must receive an annulment before you’re able to form a new relationship or get married, Timmerie said she knows of cases where people have gone through a divorce and they meet somebody Catholic and they’re not forthcoming about the fact that in the eyes of the Church, they’re still married to their old spouse. That’s a recipe for heartache and disaster. It’s much better to heal these wounds upfront with Christ than to hide them and try to skirt around Church law.

“You should have an annulment before you start dating again. And I know that’s a difficult approach,” said Timmerie. “Because remember, an annulment is not ‘Catholic divorce’. It’s not just the Church saying, ‘Hey, go at it. You can marry again.’ It’s the Church saying that a marriage never existed here to begin with.”

You cannot simply undo a valid marriage, even if one’s civil standing can be returned to that of a single person through divorce proceedings. Marriage vows include a clause that explicitly states fidelity until death. That doesn’t go away with divorce. Not even annulment dismisses that vow. Rather, annulment verifies that a marital union never took place under the correct circumstances of good faith between the bride and groom.

Angela, another listener, wrote in to ask if Catholics were the only ones who believed that marriage was eternal.

Actually, Catholics do not believe that marriage is eternal. That’s why when someone’s husband or wife dies, they are free to remarry. That marriage is over. Marriage is a sacred union between man and woman ordained by God, but it is only necessary for our earthly journey. Our goal in marriage is to get our spouse to heaven. Once they pass on, the union is dissolved. Hopefully, they made it to Paradise.

In heaven, we will all eventually have our glorified, perfect bodies and we can be eternally happy with our loved ones and with God. There is no need for the marriage bond. That is why traditional marriage vows read, “…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love and honor you all the days of my life.”

Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6pm CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.