In the Gospel Jesus declares: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery.”(Mark 10:11-12)

The complicated process of a Declaration of Nullity, which is usually long and difficult, as well as painful, is a response to the strength of this teaching.

When someone who is divorced seeks to re-marry in the Catholic Church, the Church will determine if a defect in the consent existed at the time of the previous marriage, whether Catholic, protestant or civil. The Church will investigate the previous marriage to find out if one or both parties did not, or could not, give a full, free-willed consent, and therefore no indissoluble bond had been established.

This is what we call a declaration of nullity. These can be filed years after a wedding but if the Church determines that a defect in the consent existed at the time of marriage, then a Declaration of Nullity is granted.  Marriage is a union, not a contract, made with God. Therefore, no civil institution has the power to dissolve what God has joined.In the case of an invalid marriage, God did not ever completely join the couple.

Cases likely to receive a Declaration of Nullity:
- The one we gave in the answer key of Prince Charles...
- A friend of Christine's got married when she was 18, right out of high school (lack of maturity?) and her fiancé was under drugs when they celebrated the wedding. He didn't know what he was doing! The marriage couldn't be valid.

Adultery occurring several years after the wedding is not a case for Nullity if the marriage was valid to begin with.

Civil divorce = Marriage that has failed
Declaration of Nullity = Invalid marriage that never actually occurred in the eyes of God.