Are the Children of an Annulled Marriage Illegitimate? (The Patrick Madrid Show)

Let’s explore an important question that Mary asks on The Patrick Madrid Show. “Are the children of an annulled couple considered illegitimate?”

This could be causing some anxiety if this is a personal situation in your life.

Clearing Up Misconceptions: Annulments vs. Declarations of Nullity

First, let’s clarify a common misunderstanding: Couples are not “annulled.” What we refer to as an annulment is actually a “declaration of nullity.” The Church examines the marriage to determine whether it was valid from the beginning. If it wasn’t, it declares the marriage null. This distinction is crucial because the Church cannot annul a valid, consummated marriage; it can only recognize if a marriage was never valid to begin with.

Understanding Legitimacy

Now, addressing the core concern: Are children from such marriages illegitimate? Absolutely not. Here’s why:

  • Civil Law vs. Canon Law: The term “illegitimacy” is a civil law concept that relates to the marital status of the parents at the time of the child’s birth. If a child is born to parents who aren’t legally married, civil law might categorize the child as “illegitimate.” However, this designation does not reflect on the child’s inherent worth or dignity.
  • Church’s Perspective: Canon law does not deem children from annulled marriages illegitimate. If the parents were married (even if the marriage was later declared null by the Church), the children are considered legitimate. They are the lawful offspring of a union recognized by civil authorities.

Reassurance for Parents and Children

So, to all worried parents and children out there: Rest easy! The Church’s declaration of nullity doesn’t cast a shadow on your legitimacy. You are recognized as legitimate under civil law, which acknowledges the marriage, regardless of the Church’s findings.

Peace of Mind

There’s nothing negative attached to children from a nullified marriage. They are legitimate in the eyes of both the Church and the state. This understanding should provide peace of mind to anyone worried about this issue.

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Jake Moore serves as a Digital Audio Content Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is passionate about classic movies, Christian music, young adult ministry, and leading this generation to Christ through compelling media. You can listen to more of his podcasts at and on the Relevant Radio® app.