I'll turn you over to Ed Peters, JD, JCD, for an explanation.
Annulment? What annulment? Really, what annulment?
Canon 1682 requires that every "sentence which first declare[s] the nullity of marriage to be transmitted ex officio to the appellate tribunal" and Canon 1684 states that only "after the sentence which first declared the nullity of the marriage has been confirmed at the appellate level. . .[can] the persons whose marriage has been declared null contract a new marriage . . ."
In other words, "an annulment" (which sounds as if it's a single thing) actually requires two distinct, affirmative decisions. It's not like in American law, where winning at trial is sufficient to establish one's rights. In canonical matrimonial cases, a petitioner who proves his case for nullity at trial ("first instance") does not yet "have" an annulment: a petitioner must to receive two concurring affirmative sentences in order to have an annulment. Persons involved in the annulment process are repeatedly cautioned about this point of canon law.
......continue reading "What Annulment", at In the Light of the Law
Ed had another post just recently on this subject and sheds more light on the Roman Rota at his Canon Law website with a look at one particular case from yesteryear.
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