Re: Divorce, Remarriage, Christianity.
In the process of converting to Roman Catholic.
According to the Church, if a marriage is validly entered into at the time of the ceremony, nothing can dissolve it other than the death of one of the spouses. If a marriage was invalidly entered into at the time of the ceremony, it can be Annulled.
"Let these nuptial goods be the objects of our love: offspring, fidelity, the unbreakable bond." St Augustine.
The Church teaches that, for a marriage to be valid, it must include the "goods of marriage" listed above. The more modern phrasing is that the goods of marriage are Permanence, Fidelity, Procreation, and the "good of the spouses".
All marriages are assumed valid unless/until evaluated by a Tribunal. The exceptions to this rule are when a Baptized Catholic marries outside the Church without dispensation or when one or both spouses have been previously married and remarried while their first spouse is living and without Annulment.
The Tribunal consists of a Procurator/Advocate, a Defender of the Bond, and a Judge. The Tribunal collects evidence from the Petitioner (applicant for Annulment), Defendant (the other spouse), and Witnesses. The Advocate uses the testimony and evidence presented to argue the marriage is invalid. The Defender uses the testimony and evidence to argue the marriage is valid. The Judge makes a determination.
If the Tribunal determines a valid marriage existed, then the Petitioner is considered married for religious purposes until their spouse dies. If the Tribunal determines a valid marriage never existed, the Petitioner was never married in the first place and is free to marry.
I had Annulment finalized in 2015. The Church gave me and my ex each a questionnaire. It was quite detailed, asking about our upbringing, previous relationships, every detail of courtship and marriage, sex, beliefs growing up and at the time of marriage, etc. The Tribunal asked for any supporting documents such as CPS reports, court records, and psychiatric treatment records/counseling records. They required I submit the names of 5 Witnesses who knew us before and after the marriage and would be willing to submit their own testimony via mail, telephone, or in person.
Neither of us believed marriage to be permanent and we both believed marriage could be dissolved by the courts at any time for any reason. Supporting evidence was my rearing in a family that had many divorces and remarriages and that, on the day I married, I was talking to my best friend about the future divorce. Thankfully, she agreed to testify to that effect as one of my Witnesses.
Neither of us intended to be faithful, as evidenced by multiple affairs on both sides shortly after the ceremony and continuing throughout the "marriage". Since the affairs weren't a secret, all the Witnesses knew and could include that in their testimony.
I had a child with exH when we married, but at the time of the marriage I actively intended NOT to have children during the marriage and preventing possible pregnancy. Medical records and statements made to Witnesses corroborated this.
We were abusive toward each other physically (cuz if a man hits me, I WILL hit him back!) and could be very verbally cruel to each other, demonstrating no "for the good of the spouses".
When we married, we didn't believe or intend to keep the vows, we weren't entering into what the Church teaches marriage is, we never formed a marital bond, and the marriage was determined invalid.
Other grounds for Annulment include Fraud, Non-Consummation, Consanguinity, if a spouse entered into a marriage due to threats of coercion, and a few other I can't remember off the top of my head.
After going through the Annulment process and having the Tribunal agree that the marriage wasn't valid, I feel spiritually confident in my marriage to DH. As far as I'm concerned, my first marriage was only valid legally and my marriage to DH is the only marriage I ever entered into "in God's eyes".
Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.