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Religious Annulment vs. Legal Annulment

By Sheryl Rentz on March 19, 2013

Annulment under Pennsylvania Law

A legal annulment in the state of Pennsylvania is a pronouncement by a judge which declares a marriage invalid.  An annulment legally declares that a marriage never existed.  In Pennsylvania the Court may declare a marriage to be invalid for any of the following reasons:

  • One of the marriage partners was already married at the time of the new marriage (bigamous marriages).
  • The marriage partners are blood relatives within a certain degree—marriages between brother and sister, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, first cousins.
  • One of the parties could not consent to the marriage due to a mental defect or related reason.
  • One of the parties was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage.
  • The marriage was influenced by fraud, coercion, force, or the marriage occurred under duress.
  • One party is incurably impotent.
  • The marriage was between ancestors and descendants.

Religious Annulments

Couples who are of a particular faith may be granted annulments by their church.  These annulments are not the same as legal annulments.  Legal annulments give the parties the legal right to remarry.  Religious annulments, according to The Huffington Post, allow couples to remarry without having to face sanctions by the church.  The Catholic Church, for example, prohibits divorcees who have remarried from taking Communion.

Marriages can be declared void by the Church if some key element was missing in the marriage in the first place such as the commitment to having children. Additionally, Pope Benedict XVI has said lack of faith on the part of spouses can have an effect on whether a marriage is considered valid in the Catholic Church.

Although rare, if a specific criterion is met, legal annulments are possible.  If you are seeking an annulment, you will need the help of an experienced Montgomery County annulment attorney.  Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz for more information about how legal annulments work.  Call us at (610) 645-0100 for a free initial consultation.

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