Tragically, many marriages, including those witnessed in the Catholic Church after preparation, end in divorce with a great price being paid by everybody in the family, especially the children. While the Church strives hard to assist couples in marrying properly, they recognize the possibility of a break-up and stand ready to help them with what we call Matrimonial Tribunals.
The Church considers a marriage between two baptized people, entered into freely with the intention of a permanent union and open to the possibility of children, to be a permanent Christian Sacrament of Matrimony. For Catholics, of course, there is the additional requirement that this marriage be celebrated within the context of the Church. If any one of these factors is missing and if that factor can be proven, the Church will consider declaring the marriage null and void from the beginning. However, this is very difficult to do and many young people, following divorce, find themselves shocked to see that the Church will not grant them an annulment.
The best way to avoid experiencing this tragedy is to really know the person with whom you are entering into marriage. The most frequent plea in annulment cases is, “I did not really know him.” “I really did not know her.” Who is responsible for that?