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Grounds of Marital Nullity

IMG_1857 The Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome, built between 1483 and 1513, houses the three Vatican Tribunals: the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Roman Rota, and the Apostolic Penitentiary.                

The following are the canonical grounds why a marriage might be invalid. They are simplified explanations. The ground for invalidity must exist at the beginning of the marriage. The ground for invalidity can be on the part of one or both of the spouses.

Lack of sufficient reason  (canon 1095, 1º) - An incapacity at the time of the marriage to understand and intend true marital consent due to some temporary or habitual cause.

Defect of discretion of judgment  (canon 1095, 2º) - An incapacity to consent due to a grave failure to evaluate adequately and freely choose what marriage to the other party will entail regarding essential marital rights and obligations. There must be some temporary or habitual cause of the defect.

Psychic incapacity  (canon 1095, 3º) - An incapacity to assume and fulfill the essential obligations of marriage due to psychic causes.

Ignorance of marriage  (canon 1096) - A lack of knowledge about marriage as a permanent consortium between a man and a woman ordered for the procreation and education of children.

Error of person  (canon 1097, §1) - An error about the identity of the person married.

Error of quality  (canon 1097, §2) - An error about a quality of the other party that was directly and principally intended.

Deception with malice  (canon 1098) - Deliberate deception about some quality in the other party that can cause grave marital discord.

Error about fidelity  (canon 1099) - An error at the time of marriage in the party's understanding of fidelity as an essential property of marriage, to the degree that the party only understood marriage with that error.

Error about perpetuity  (canon 1099) - An error at the time of the marriage in the party's understanding of perpetuity (indissolubility) as an essential property of marriage, to the degree that the party only understood marriage with that error.

Error about sacramental dignity (canon 1099) - An error at the time of marriage in the party's understanding of marriage as a sacrament instituted by Christ, to the degree that the party only understood marriage with that error.

Total simulation (canon 1101, §2) - A positive act of the will at the time of marriage to exclude marriage itself while externally consenting to marriage.

Partial simulation, against fidelity (canon 1101, §2) - A positive act of the will at the time of marriage to exclude the right and obligation of fidelity from the marriage.

Partial simulation, against perpetuity (canon 1101, §2) - A positive act of the will at the time of marriage to exclude the right and obligation of perpetuity (indissolubility) from the marriage.

Partial simulation, against children (canon 1101, §2) - A positive act of the will at the time of marriage to exclude the right to acts which are by themselves apt for the procreation of children or to exclude children themselves.

Partial simulation, against the good of spouses (canon 1101, §2) - A positive act of the will at the time of marriage to exclude the establishment of a mutually beneficial marital relationship in which the parties are true and equal helpmates.

Partial simulation, against sacramental dignity (canon 1101, §2) - A positive act of the will at the time of marriage to exclude the good of marriage as a sacrament instituted by Christ.

Future condition (canon 1102, §1) - A requirement to consent to the marriage that was based on a condition to be fulfilled in the future.

Past or present condition (canon 1102, §2) - A requirement to consent to the marriage that was based on a condition of something from before or at the time of marriage that was not fulfilled.

Force or fear (canon 1103) - A party was compelled to enter marriage to be freed from force or grave fear inflicted, even unintentionally, by someone else.