Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Annulment: the new divorce?

So others see it also? This article discusses both a Civil Law annulment, and a Church Declaration of Nullity as though they were similar. They are not supposed to be alike, and grounds are totally different, supposedly. But this from a country where King Henry VIII founded his OWN Church and beheaded not only some of his wives in his mad six wife saga, but also many of his great Catholic Church leaders such as Sts John Fischer, and Thomas More! The Church has got to begin to listen to those who hold marriage to be permanent and indissoluble, as it did when Henry wanted to ditch Catherine...Where are today's John Fishers and Thomas Mores????

One of the FIRST steps to take is to call it by its correct name!
Declaration of Nullity.

God bless!

Annulment: the new divorce?

by CHRISSY ILEY,
Daily Mail
12:06pm 30th May 2006


Against a background of spiralling marriage failure and, as of last week, groundbreaking divorce settlements, it was only a matter of time before we came upon an alternative to the messy, costly divorce - enter the annulment.

Now every Tom, Dick and Nicole seems to be getting in on the act.

First there was Renee Zellweger, who had her four-month marriage to Kenny Chesney annulled on the grounds of 'fraud'. And now Nicole Kidman is said to have been granted an annulment of her ten year marriage to Tom Cruise, so she can remarry in a Catholic church.

Although the marathon length of the marriage in this case was unusual, it seems the phenomenon is not - and it is clear not all annulments are for such pious reasons.

Who could forget Britney Spears's annulment after a drunken wedding in a Vegas chapel, immediately releasing the pop star from her illadvised nuptials?

Or how, the same year, hotel heiress Nicky Hilton managed to quietly dissolve her marriage to 33-year-old Todd Meister, despite the two claiming the matrimony was heartfelt and remaining friends. It's no coincidence that with annulments, both Britney and Nicky managed to shake off their new spouses and save their fortunes. Because of the complexity of the laws, with an annulment, traditional alimony is not guaranteed.

"In the UK there are two forms of annulment - religious, performed by the Church, or a legal petition for annulment," explains divorce lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd-Platt.

"In the former, there's no necessary financial settlement or alimony. In the latter, you could have almost the same claims as you would on divorce proceedings: you can request the same settlement as in divorce, and it's up to the courts to determine."

This is what happened when Mick Jagger legally annulled his 16-year marriage to Jerry Hall, claiming their Hindu wedding ceremony in Bali was not recognised under English law. This claim was upheld, but he allegedly still had to pay Jerry in the region of £30million.

But surely if there's even a chance that wives or husbands could hold on to their respective fortunes if they go for an annulment, every ill fated marriage would end this way?

Vanessa Lloyd-Platt is quick to reiterate that avoiding massive payouts can't be taken for granted and that the criteria for annulment are difficult to prove, making her confident that, despite a small increase, we will not see a raft of copycat legal annulments in the UK.

"With the grounds including bigamy or marriage to a family member, it's clear the main claims in this country would be nonconsummation - and we see cases of this so rarely, I can't imagine it becoming a trend," says Vanessa.

Father Shaun Middleton, priest of St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in London's Notting Hill, thinks that the drive for annulment is psychological: "Annulment is good because it means a clean break. It did happen, but it didn't."

Does he think it's a growing trend? "I certainly seem to be getting quite a few of those blue forms."

Where legal petitions of annulment have their rules, so do religious ones. The two main reasons the Catholic Church can grant an annulment are lack of due discretion (you made a rash mistake and didn't know what you were doing) or error of person (you think you are marrying one person, but end up with another).

But isn't that the way all falling out of love goes? Doesn't that mean every failed marriage is invalid?

"The Church is much more progressive than the legal system in the way it sees nullities," explains Fr Middleton.

"Annulment existed before divorce. It's not all about not having intercourse. The Church can call an end to a marriage if you feel you didn't freely give your consent."

So in an age when getting married three or four times is not unheard of, are we about to see multiple annulments? It seems the Church has headed this one off at the pass.

"I did once see someone who wanted to annul two marriages," says Fr Middleton, "but the Church does a sneaky thing. When you get married again you have to have a psychological assessment to prove you really are in full control of your senses, and then there's no way out."

The question is, is anyone getting married ever going to be in full control of their senses, especially now they know they don't have to be - because that is their way out.

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