Last September, Pope Francis introduced a series of changes in the canonical process for marriage annulment. Among the things he asked for were speed in the processes and that they were totally free.
In Costa Rica, these changes have led to more people applying for annulment.
Alejandro Jiménez, Judicial Vicar of the Ecclesiastical Court, explained that the changes have helped expedite the resolution process, which -according to him- isn’t annulling a marriage, but to declare that a union never had legal validity,
because there was an internal or external situation in the parties that made the marriage an invalid one. There are situations that people voluntarily concealed, or did, or situations that affected them internally even though they did not know it.”
The priest explained that the process is benefited in two ways:
– It has allowed people who are foreigners and married in their countries of origin, to present the cause in our country, something that could hardly be done before certain conditions were given.
– And it has helped to expedite a final decision, because it is no longer mandatory that a sentence in which the nullity is declared, must go to an appellate court to corroborate that first sentence.
The faithful who want to undergo the abbreviated process must meet certain characteristics, among which is that both people agree and assist the process. According to Jiménez, these requirements are:
– The 2 spouses must want to participate.
– The 2 spouses must be present when the Court indicates it, along with witnesses.
– The cause must be obvious, that is, what is suspected to create the nullity must be so obvious that the evidence present that day is enough to reach the moral certainty that the marriage was null.
Jiménez added that as of this year, after the reform, people were more attracted to consult about their marital status and to be clear if their marriage was valid or not. Until September 2015, a total of 430 marriages were waiting to be granted the annulment.