My previous questions were kind of wrong:

Why they were kind of wrong:

  • I supposed that in both cases, namely the case for Filipino Catholics and the case for German Catholics, where both church marriages were of course invalid, that both of the state marriages were invalid as well, and then I asked about the financial aspect of state annulments which supposedly cost more than state divorces.

  • I believe I should have been asking about what would happen if while both church marriages were invalid, both state were marriages were valid.

Let me start over:

Case 1: Suppose I am Catholic, my church marriage is invalid, and my state marriage is invalid too.

  • Then I could get a state annulment or state divorce and then, if successful in either, I could start church annulment proceedings.

Case 2: Suppose I am Catholic, my church marriage is invalid, but my state marriage is valid, a common occurrence by this.

  • By this, it seems I would have to first get a state divorce before I start a church annulment. (*)

Case 2.1: (*) is wrong to think that I would have to first get a state divorce because a state separation is an alternative requirement to a state divorce.

  • Therefore, in countries that have no state divorce (THERE'S ONLY ONE: THE PHILIPPINES), there's no issue because those countries (THE PHILIPPINES) have state separation.

Case 2.2: (*) is right, so a state separation does not satisfy the necessary requirement to begin a church annulment in the way that a state divorce or state annulment does.

  • Before, I ask the question, let me recap to say that there is no issue in Case 1 and Case 2.1. Then, the following question is on Case 2.2. Of course, if Case 2.2 is wrong and Case 2.1 is right, then please just say so and cite a source.

Now the Question: How do Filipino Catholics get a church annulment when their state marriage is valid?

Let me be concrete with examples: 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 valid state marriages but invalid church marriages. Then neither can get a state annulment to start a church annulment petition.

  • Romeo and Juliet don't care because they can get a state divorce and then start a church annulment petition.

  • However, this is a nightmare for Jack and Jill, both of whom hope to remarry (well, actually 'marry' because they were never validly 'married' in the first place) outside the Philippines and both of whom are already living separately outside the Philippines. From the church's point of view, it's okay for Jack and Jill to remarry, but bound by the Philippine state's laws, Jack and Jill cannot begin a Philippine Catholic Church annulment petition. And yet

  1. This is supposedly a very common occurrence easily remedies by the possibility of state divorce.

  2. The impossibility of state divorce is one that the Catholic Church is in favour of throughout the world, in particular, the Philippines.

  3. By the 2 statements above, if state separation does not substitute for the requirement of state divorce or state annulment, then it seems the Catholic Church is self-contradictory: The Catholic Church's desire to not have state divorce in the world, in particular, the Philippines, is hindering the invalidly church married Filipino Catholics from getting an annulment, effectively penalising Filipino Catholics because the Philippines is doing what the Church wants. I believe ecclesiastical judicial economy does not apply because these kinds of situations, namely when a church marriage is invalid while a state marriage is valid is common (If it's common around the world, I don't see how it's less common in the Philippines).

  • Let me clarify:
  1. The Church wants the Philippines to continue to not have state divorce.

  2. The Church would want its invalidly church married Filipino Catholics Jack and Jill to have annulments, even if Jack and Jill have valid state marriages.

  3. The above statements seem to contradict if state separation does not substitute for the requirement of state divorce or state annulment. How they do not contradict is the answer to the question.

The following is how I imagine things:

The Church: 'Wow, the situation you described is indeed a church invalid marriage that you beyond reasonable doubt and not merely beyond balance of probabilities. Fine, just get a state divorce and then we can start a church annulment.'

Jack and Jill: 'Um, we live in the Philippines.'

The Church: 'Oh, that country's great! Predominantly Roman Catholic, has no divorce, has great beaches and food, etc. Cool people. Cool country. It's more fun in the Philippines. Anyway, just get a state annulment then.'

Jack and Jill: 'Um, our state marriage is valid.'

The Church: 'Wait, your state marriage is valid, but your church marriage is invalid?'

Jack and Jill: 'Well yeah, based on the situation we just described to you.'

The Church: 'Hmmm...I don't know. Can you prove it beyond reasonable doubt?'

Jack and Jill: 'You just said we did.'

The Church: 'Oh right. Then get a state separation.'

Jack and Jill: 'Oh, a state separation substitutes for a state annulment or state divorce and is not "an abomination of the moral order"?'

The Church: '_ _ [so what's the answer?] _ _'

  • 3
    Questions should not categorized as "right" or "wrong". If you are thinking of them that way then I think you are using this tool incorrectly. Questions should be specific enough that they can be answered. You seem to be trying to solve some big-scheme problem or highlight some issue with the church — hence it seems your idea of a "right" question is one that successfully pins down the culprit. I suggest instead a much simpler approach to break down your issue into discrete answerable questions that don't require elaborate mix-and-match scenarios.
    – Caleb
    Aug 30, 2018 at 8:26
  • @Caleb Thanks for the feedback. My question is simply that 'How do Filipino Catholics get a church annulment when their state marriage is valid?' My question is not broken down into cases. Rather, I have a set of cases and then have a question about one particular case: The other cases provide context for this one particular case.
    – BCLC
    Aug 30, 2018 at 10:23

2 Answers 2


They get a church annulment whithout a state annulment (or divorce).

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.

As posted in my other answer, this is possible in harmony with universal canon law.

However the case you describe is very seldom in the Philippines, because the Philippine family law is really similar to the canon law. Historically it is "based on Catholic canon law". The Supreme Court made a state annulment easier step by step. So now there should be nearly no marriage valid by state law but invalid by canon law.

  • 1 - similar is not the same technically? so technically there may be some cases and sooooo how do those Filipino Catholics get a church annulment? 2 - what about before the bill? / Ah wait BEFORE the bill it is seldom and after this bill it is never?
    – BCLC
    Jul 24, 2022 at 10:30
  1. Jill can get a state divorce outside the Philippines.

It is a common misconception that if you are state married in state X that any state annulments or state divorces of that state marriage must be in state X.

  1. With regards to a substitute for a state annulment or state divorce: A state separation likely wouldn't substitute, but if you open your mind to different states, then the non-Philippine state divorce would be a substitute for a Philippine state annulment with regards to petitioning a church annulment wherever Jill got the state divorce. I'm not sure if Jill could still petition for a Philippine church annulment.

STILL, IT SUCKS THAT JILL HAS TO GO ABROAD. No mention of poor Filipino Catholics who are invalidly church married but validly state married.

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