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Mary marries John and both have good intentions of living together and raising a family. After x years it's discovered that one cannot have children and nothing can be done medically. Can the other person receive an annulment based on the fact that he /she wants to have children but the spouse cannot? Is the one person that can have children supposed to forgo children ?

Let's assume that no fraud was committed and the person didn't know they were infertile.

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    Why do you think this might be a valid reason for declaring a marriage invalid from the beginning? Wikipedia seems pretty clear that sterility is no reason for an annulment. Which makes sense, otherwise no post-menopause women could be validly married! – curiousdannii Jul 24 '18 at 6:47
  • You missed the point totally. Menopausal women are known to be sterile, no surprise for anyone involved and I think that's why sterility is mentioned . I think it's a valid reason because the other half has the right to have his/her own biological children. – Chlorinate06 Jul 24 '18 at 10:01
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    Who says that is a right? – curiousdannii Jul 24 '18 at 11:05
  • Wasn't Catholicism's refusal to annul based on infertility among the reasons Henry VIII of England broke from Catholicism and formed the Anglican Church? – JBH Jul 24 '18 at 15:18
  • @JBH - King Henry VIII wanted to put Catherine aside, (who had first been married to Henry's older brother) in order to marry another woman who might bear him a son. I don't think infertility was the issue. Catherine had born him children but only Mary survived. Details in this article: catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=5661 – Lesley Jul 24 '18 at 15:27
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Unlike divorce which is where the Catholic Church says "A marriage existed, and now we are ending it," the annulment process says "From the very beginning, something was lacking that was necessary for this relationship to be called a marriage." Source: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/marriage/catholic-marriage-and-annulments

The annulment of a Catholic marriage can be permitted where “A marriage where one party cannot have children and they did not inform their partner about this.” Source: http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?58108-Acceptable-Reasons-for-Annulment-of-a-Catholic-Marriage

Therefore, if it is discovered at some point after the marriage that one or the other is infertile, but that was not known prior to the marriage, then it would not be grounds for an annulment. Various Catholic sources deal with infertility and medical treatments that are available.

Edit: For clarity, that means infertility is NOT grounds for an annulment, UNLESS the infertile person knowingly concealed that fact prior to the marriage taking place. In the situation described in this question, there is an assumption "that no fraud was committed and the person didn't know they were infertile." Conclusion - no grounds for an annulment.

Thanks to JBH who pointed out: "Infertility isn't grounds for annullment - period. Deceit and fraud are, likely no matter the subject."

Here is a link to an article on how the Catholic Church views the annulment of a marriage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_nullity

  • A forum post is not necessarily reliable, do you have links to something in canon law or something else official? – curiousdannii Jul 24 '18 at 12:07
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    Your conclusion is incorrect. Infertility on its own is not grounds for an annulment unless the condition was knowingly hidden from one party prior to the marriage. Your third paragraph is misleading. – Marc Jul 24 '18 at 12:21
  • But I AGREE that infertility on its own is not grounds for an unnulment. The link to the article Acceptable Reasons for Annulment of a Catholic Marriage clearly says: “A marriage where one party cannot have children and they did not inform their partner about this.” The key point is if infertility was KNOWINGLY HIDDEN from the other party prior to the marriage. – Lesley Jul 24 '18 at 15:02
  • I will reword/edit that paragraph to make it clear that infertility is not grounds for an annulment unless it was known before the marriage and that information was withheld. – Lesley Jul 24 '18 at 15:05
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    Perhaps what's misleading is the word "unless." Infertility isn't grounds for annullment - period. Deceit and fraud are, likely no matter the subject. – JBH Jul 24 '18 at 15:22
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1983 Code of Canon Law canon 1083 §3 says:

Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage

The 1917 Code canon 1063 §3 says the same.

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