Another Annulment Question

Question from Marie on 12/12/2007:

I have a question regarding grounds for annulment. I am Catholic, my husband has never been baptized. We received a dispensation for this impediment and were married in the Catholic Church.

My husband told me he wanted children before we were married, but his actions later suggested this wasn’t true. He was furious when I got pregnant only three months after our wedding date. He said he didn’t want to have children until his career was on track. He treated me horribly for months. For the rest of our marriage he would “withdraw” during sex (coitus interruptus?) to ensure I didn’t get pregnant again. He said he never wanted to have another child. I really wanted more children and was dismayed this was not an option.

After our daughter was born he never provided for her or me. He refused to get a job so I had to support our family on my paycheck. He pursued training to become an airline pilot that took him far away from us for the majority of our marriage. I had the responsibilities of supporting our family financially, maintaining our household, and raising our daughter largely on my own. He didn’t appear to feel guilty; his attitude was “you made your bed, now you sleep in it.” If I objected he would remind me that this was why he didn't want to have children until his career was on track.

However, once his career was on track he decided he didn't want to be married anymore. He didn't want our house nor anything in it. He didn't want any share of the physical or legal custody of our daughter.

I feel he was using me from the beginning, and never intended to have a lasting and committed partnership with me. I believe he saw an opportunity, that I could support him through flight training, and that was his main motivation for marriage.

Mercifully there wasn’t much of an upheaval after the divorce because he was hardly ever around when we were married and he never provided for our daughter or me financially.

Would any of this be grounds for annulment? How would I prove that those were his true intentions? I don't know if he would admit to them because it makes him sound like a real ogre. I do have several witness who knew us before and during the marriage who agree with my assessment.

I am desperately lonely and a man has recently expressed interest in me, but I don’t even want to date unless I have an annulment. I don’t have a lot of money to waste on initiating an annulment process, especially if I don’t have grounds in the first place.

Answer by David Gregson on 1/11/2008:

If your husband lied to you before you were married, in saying he wanted children, or if he intended to prevent conception by whatever means until "his career was on track," it sounds as though you have grounds for an annulment. Of course, his testimony to this effect would carry the most weight. I would approach him about giving testimony, without bringing up the other ways in which he failed as a husband. If he doesn't think he was wrong in refusing to have children, at least until convenient for him, perhaps he won't feel like an ogre in acknowledging the fact.

You should approach your parish priest and discuss the possibility of an annulment. He will either answer your questions himself, or direct you to someone who can, and also give you some idea of what it would cost. The important thing to remember is that the validity of a marriage doesn't depend on failure to live up to the marriage vows, but on factors that undermined the vows themselves, such as a wrong intention in taking them.

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