This question may be wrong. I think the right question is in the following link: How do Filipino Catholics get a church annulment when their state marriage is valid, considering the Philippines doesn't have divorce?


Would a state separation be a substitute requirement in the place of a state annulment or state divorce for (3) below? Case 1: The country has divorce. Case 2: The country is the Philippines. If yes to case 2 for (3) below, then the original question is moot because the Philippines does have state separation.


Marriage invalid. Would a church annulment require a state annulment or state divorce?

Why is it not that a state divorce is actually an argument AGAINST a church annulment petition rather than a necessary condition for such petition?

This seems quite weird, ironic and unfair:

  1. The Catholic Church doesn't believe in church divorce (except Pauline, Petrine, etc), and it further doesn't believe in state divorce (afaik or not, in which case, close this question).

  2. The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, is the only country without state divorce (My Theology professor in undergrad kept pointing out that actually the Vatican is another place/state without state divorce, but I said country).

  3. To apply for a church annulment, one must first get a state annulment OR state divorce. (So if state separation is sufficient, then this assumption is wrong and so the whole question is moot)

  4. State annulments are more costly than state divorces. (sort of)

  5. From (4), there is incentive for a invalidly state married couple to claim their state marriage is valid or at least not claim their state marriage is invalid and get a divorce instead of an annulment.

  6. Let Jack and Jill be a Catholic couple married in the Philippines, and let Romeo and Juliet be a Catholic couple married in Germany. Suppose both couples have invalid state marriages and invalid church marriages. From (3) and (5), it is easier for Romeo and Juliet to have a church annulment because, since Germany has state divorce, Romeo and Juliet can get a state divorce in instead of a state annulment.

Proof of (6): Suppose WOLOG that the cost of a church annulment is the same in both Germany and in the Philippines, denoted x.

For Jack and Jill to get a church annulment, they must first obtain a state annulment, both of which they can do because both their church and state marriages are invalid by assumption. The cost of a state annulment in the Philippines is USD$2,853. Therefore, the total cost of their annulments is USD$2,853+x.

For Romeo and Juliet to get a church annulment, they must first obtain a state annulment or state divorce, both annulments of which they can do because both their church and state marriages are invalid by assumption. Now, the cost of a state annulment in Germany is likely greater than the cost a state divorce in Germany, and the latter according to scheidung-online.de is possibly € 1.000, or USD$1,170.25 computed at 2018Aug29, 4:50 PM UTC in Google. Therefore, the total cost of their annulments is possibly USD$1,170.25+x.

Observe that cost for Romeo and Juliet = USD$1,170.25+x < USD$2,853+x = cost for Jack and Jill. QED

  1. From (6), there is incentive for the Philippine government to allow state divorce, which it's doing though obviously not for church annulments.

(1) and (7) seem to be a self-contradiction on the part of the Catholic Church:

  1. The Catholic Church wants state divorce to not be allowed (a stronger condition than 'does not want state divorce to be allowed' in countries, in particular the Philippines, the last country without divorce, and yet...

  2. ...the Catholic Church makes rules that such that it is more beneficial for the Philippines to have state divorce.


  1. If I understand right, then why isn't the Catholic Church accommodating Filipinos to bypass a state annulment for a church annulment because the Philippines doesn't have state divorce? (I won't ask why the Catholic Church refuses to accept church annulment petitions from state divorcees)

  2. If I understand wrong, then which part/s, and why?

2 Answers 2


You are reasoning incorrectly. The error begins in your statement 4, which is only true in states which admit both civil divorce and civil annulment. Nor need it be true that civil annulment in any given country is always more expensive than every civil divorce in every country.

There is, as you state, incentive to have a civil divorce rather than civil annulment in countries in which both exist and annulment is more expensive. But it needn't be true that in a country without civil divorce, there is therefore pressure to create civil divorce. The pressure, if there is any, is simply to create a less expensive substitute for the annulment at its current cost - reducing the current cost of an annulment would do the trick.

It would be more (financially at least) beneficial for the Philippines to have civil divorce, if that were to be less expensive than civil annulment. But it would be equally beneficial if the cost of an annulment were lowered. Thus your statement (7), and part 2 of your conclusion, are incorrect.

  • Thanks Matt Gutting. Suppose I add another assumption that the cost of state annulment could not be lowered to the cost of what would be the cost of a state divorce, and suppose that annulments are always more costly than divorces. Then...? :)
    – BCLC
    Aug 29, 2018 at 18:01
  • Actually, my question then need not be limited to countries without divorce (well, just the Philippines), I think. What if I expand to countries where divorce is more expensive than annulment? Or to countries where the cheaper between divorce and annulment is just too damn high? (Of course in the Philippines, the cost of divorce is infinity, vacuously)
    – BCLC
    Aug 29, 2018 at 18:05
  • Wait you said there is pressure 'to create a less expensive substitute for the annulment at its current cost' and that 'reducing the current cost of an annulment would do the trick', but reducing the cost of annulment isn't a less expensive substitute for the annulment? Economically, I'm not sure that makes sense. Costs don't just reduce after all...what do you mean exactly? I believe that annulments should cost less than divorces or somehow be more expensive initially but then the state reimburses you if your petition is granted, but hey I don't write the laws.
    – BCLC
    Aug 29, 2018 at 18:08
  • 1
    You didn't ask me why I made my claim, you asked me what my response would be if you changed your question (by adding another assumption, as in your first comment; or by expanding the range of countries discussed,as in your second). This would be a different question. Since the site doesn't look favorably on altering a question that has an answer, in a way that invalidates that answer, the only options are for me to delete my answer, and you edit the question; or for you to ask a new question. Aug 29, 2018 at 18:20
  • 1
    Now it looks like you're asking two questions: (1) Why the Catholic Church seems to make it difficult for a couple to get an annulment if their nation doesn't allow civil divorce (this is the question in the title), and (2) Whether a civil separation would suffice to initiate the process for a church annulment in cases where there is no civil divorce (the question in your edit). Which question do you want answered? Aug 29, 2018 at 18:55

From K-HB's answer here:

It seems possible to get a church annulment without getting a state annulment before. You can recognize this by a new proposed bill in the Philippine parliament: In future a church annulment shall be recognised as a state annulment. This only makes sense, if a church annulment can be decreed without a previous state annulment.

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