My divorce was final in February. As soon as my former spouse asked for the divorce, I knew I'd seek an annulment. I read through and flled out the paperwork and then contacted a tribunal advocate. I completed the paperwork and met with her to review it. Now, it was my former spouse's feelings and choices that I feel make our marriage invalid. The grounds for the annulment in my case are pretty clear. After reading my paperwork the advocate tells me, it's too soon, you are not "ready". What should I make of this? My former spouse tells me he will fill out the necessary forms, but has not yet. When he does, and I see what he wrote, maybe I'll be more "ready" to accept his choices. It's clear to me that on our wedding day, his heart was not fully there and a lifetime commitment was doubtful. I on the otherhand felt the opposite. I am not ready to accept that my marriage was real on my end. I am not ready to say I wasn't in it for the long haul. I had an unconditional love for him and that may never change. He is the man I wanted a lifetime with. He has moved on, and now I need to. He has made his decisions about what he wants. I don't like the limbo of "divorce". The divorce took a long time and so do annulments. Bottom line - Do I need to be "healed" before I proceed, or is the annulment process supposed to help me to "heal"? Thanks for your thoughts.
Did your advocate offer any explanation for her comment? The annulment questionnaire (not the preliminary paperwork but one that you'll receive after the case has been filed and begun) is a brutal one and that might be why she said you're not ready.
You wrote: "I am not ready to accept that my marriage was real on my end. I am not ready to say I wasn't in it for the long haul." You did have a real marriage and a decree of nullity does not state it wasn't real, only that it wasn't sacramental. Your relationship with your ex-spouse was very real and in society, a witness to all of being a family.
It is very painful to know that the one who promised to love you til death do you part has moved on to someone or something else. But you do not need to be healed before going through the annulment process, just ready to dig deeply into that failed relationship and accept some hard facts. You need to be ready to accept the facts, learn from the mistakes, and work on beginning to forgive the wrongdoings. Those are the prerequisites in my opinion.
Lastly, I believe the process itself is what brings the most healing - much more than never going through one. Count on my prayers for you!
Sincerely - Lisa
Thanks for the reply. It was the "brutal" form which I filled out. She read through the form and then we talked. She thought maybe I had written the statements months ago, when if fact it was just days early. She felt my verbal statements were stronger than my written statements. I don't know if I feel that is the case. She wants a rewrite. She seems to want me to state that there were clear signs to me that there was a problem. I was "blind sided" by the problem. I was planning to tackle a rewrite in the near future.
Okay, I think I understand.
First, canon lawyers need as much detail as possible to deliberate a case and they definitely prefer essay answers to each question. They need as much information as possible so they can make the correct decision. It's like fitting together pieces of a puzzle so they can have the big picture to understand. When you go for the rewrite, just offer as much detail as possible and this should help.
On the other hand, parish advocates are there specifically to answer questions and support you as you go through the process – not to slant a story one way or another in order to ensure a decree of nullity will be obtained. This is how the system is abused and one reason why there is concern over the number of annulments in the US. I encourage you to talk to your advocate about why she wants you to state there were clear signs when there weren't, give her a chance to explain (because there may be more to it) and certainly let her know that you don't feel comfortable stating something other than the truth.
The annulment process is serious business, particularly because this is your future, both in this world and the next. You want the tribunal's decision to be guided by the Holy Spirit and as sound and correct as possible.
I will be praying for God's guidance for you!
Sometimes having a 3rd person involved, like a priest or deacon, might be helpful too. I'm not saying go outside of the person that's helping you, just, possibly, having a deacon or priest glance at a few of your answers. Maybe putting in the answer, "I was really blindsided, I have no idea" would show that you truly did not see this coming or as a possibility. I think well-meaning reviewers might be wanting you to "get that annulment" and that's kind in one way but you need to state what is true, what really happened and didn't happen. I don't believe in "ready" or "not ready", it's about being honest and prayerful in your answers and I believe going forward with the annulment is one way a person does heal.
Mine is before the tribunal--didn't have to do the long form/questions, so I'm anxious to hear back from them.
I will keep you in my prayers.