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Rosemary wrote:

Hi, guys —

My mother has a problem and she is asking me for help, so I'm turning to the experts.

My mother has been living with this man for about 15 years, and they have a 9-year-old daughter together. My mother's a divorcee and she has had her marriage with my father annulled by the Church. She just came to the realization that living with a man out of wedlock is wrong. She spoke to a priest about it and wants to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony with the other man.

The problem is he married a Catholic woman in Vietnam. They were married for several months until he moved to the United States, where he sponsored her over. Soon after, she left him.
She's since been remarried and had kids. My mother and the man have spoken to a couple of priests about it, and the priest have advised them to get in contact with the first wife in order to have her fill out the necessary paperwork bur the first wife:

  • refuses
  • has disconnected her phone number, and
  • has relocated.

This is after many attempts by the man, his mother, my mother, and her mother.

The question is:

What is the next step for my mother and the man in order to get married in the Church, if the other party refuses to sign annulment papers or have anything to do with the whole situation?

The priest referred them to a middleman. They went to him and he gave them the paperwork that needed to be filled out and sent back in. He said it would cost them around $700.00.

  • Is that correct? and
  • If so, what is this paperwork?

Thank you, and God Bless,

Rosemary

  { What if one party refuses to participate in the annulment proceeding and why the paperwork? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Rosemary,

I am glad your mother has awakened to her faith. The Church has a procedure for cases where one party refuses to participate in the annulment proceeding, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Also, it may be the case that the first wife used the marriage as a way to immigrate. This may be a factor in the validity of the first marriage. In any case, whoever is handling the annulment investigation should know what to do.

I do not know about charges, but there is a lot of work involved so I can imagine that there are some charges. I wish your mother the best. She is fortunate to have a daughter that is taking an interest in helping her.

Hope this helps,

Mary Ann

Fr. Nick replied:

Dear Rosemary:

Mary Ann is on target.

There is a process for addressing the marriage of her significant other. It appears as though a Petition for Annulment would have to be made to the local tribunal.

If the ex-wife cannot be located or refuses to participate, the process can move forward but it will take a bit longer.

Each diocese sets fees for the time-consuming work involved in the preparation of the various petitions and documents. $700.00 does not seem unreasonable.

Remember that you pay civil lawyers and clerks for processing and assisting with the civil process.

Fr. Nick

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