Canon lawyers Peter Vere and Jacqui Rapp here disseminate information about how annulments are processed and obtained.
While many consider annulment to be the Catholic version of divorce, such is not the case. Annulment of a marriage declares that a marriage never existed due to particular reasons or situations. The authors explain this with quotes from Canon Law and with anecdotes from their experiences.
The authors explain what a canonical marriage is and what is necessary for it to happen, including the canonical requirements for marriage preparation. Contrary to movies and fiction, a man and a woman cannot simply find a priest and ask him to marry them on the spot. While that may happen in an extreme case, such a situation is beyond the norm. Documents such as baptismal certificates and the like must first be gathered, and the couple is required to attend counseling to ensure that they are ready for marriage, as the authors explain.
An annulment takes time and is not cheap. Most cases are dealt with on the local or diocesan level. The process can involve only one of the two in the so-called marriage, or it could involve both. A judge presides, and advocates for the various parties may include canon lawyers or sometimes persons from other professions. Vere and Rapp also explain the appeal process to the Vatican and submit other ways a marriage might be declared invalid, like the Pauline privilege. They also offer advice on how to keep a valid marriage together.
This short book contains a lot of information of interest to Catholics and non-Catholics alike and is highly recommended.
Pete Vere is a canon lawyer and a professor of canon law. He is the co-author of Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (volumes 1 and 2). Jacqui Rapp is a canon lawyer who works with various dioceses in the United States.