When discussing the procedure for a divorce in the Catholic Church, generally two (2) concepts come into play. The first is a legal annulment of the marriage. A legal annulment, when granted, means that in the eyes of the law, the marriage never existed. This may assist with an annulment in the Catholic Divorce. The second is an annulment by the Catholic Church itself. For a divorce to be annulled it must be considered invalid by the tribune. The tribune consists of a panel of church judges.
At this point, it is important to note that while a legal annulment may be helpful in obtaining an annulment by the Catholic tribune, it is not recognized in Indiana as valid. This means that an annulment by the Catholic Church is not recognized by any Indiana legal tribunal and cannot be used to enforce property or custody rights. So, outside the Catholic Church, an annulment by a Catholic tribunal is not recognized.
This noted, to obtain a an annulment in Indiana, the parties must have a void or voidable marriage. This noted, That said, while there is no common law marriage in Indiana, if the parties have held themselves out as married, they will likely need to file a legal divorce action to declare the marriage voided to placate third parties, such as creditors.
With voidable marriage, a party must file an action under the divorce act to have the marriage declared void. In other words, a voidable marriage is a basis for a divorce in Indiana, aside from the four (4) statutory factors for divorce.
While the frequency of these questions demonstrates the confusion between a legal divorce under the divorce law and a divorce under the Catholic Church, not all legal-religious systems generate such confusion. For example, Sharia law is a mixture of law and religion. According to Sharia law, there are two (2) reasons a wife may be granted a divorce. When she can prove that her husband did not have intercourse with her for more than three (3) months or if he does not provide her with what she needs for living, such as food and shelter, she may be granted a divorce.
In the United States, the constitutional separation of church and state de facto prohibits legal-religious systems. Thus, while a divorce may be legally recognized because it was obtained through a court in any other state under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, a divorce issued by a Catholic Tribunal is only recognized by the Catholic Church.
Thus, a Catholic who desires to have all the rights and privileges afforded to Catholics but also wants a divorce, must be legally divorced (perhaps helped in the Catholic tribunal by annulment) by a United States Court, but must also have their marriage annulled by the Catholic Tribunal. In this way, they have full legal rights associated with marriage as well as full privileges in the Catholic Church.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. This blog is provided to make you a more educated legal consumer, which will make you a more helpful litigant to your counsel. This blog is not written to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. Further, the blog is not legal advice. The blog is an advertisement.