Questions Used to Construct Petitioners Account

QUESTIONS USED TO CONSTRUCT PETITIONER’S ACCOUNT OF PREVIOUS MARRIAGE FOR PURPOSES OF SEEKING A CHURCH DECLARATION OF NULLITY

PART I – BACKGROUND

Family History
Your date of birth and the date of birth of your former spouse. Your religious affiliation? Your former spouse’s? Were you baptized? Your former spouse? If you were ever baptized as a Catholic did you, at any point after being baptized, renounce your membership in the Catholic Church? Did you ever express to others your desire not to be a Catholic anymore?
Did you receive the Sacrament of Confirmation? Did your family members attend church? How often? Was there a history of family problems in either or both of your families? Did you come from happy or unhappy homes? What values and/or attitudes regarding divorce were modeled in each one of your families as you grew up?

School, Childhood, Friendships
Looking back into your childhood, adolescent and young adult lives, do you now see in either your life or your former spouse’s life anything that might be the cause of future problems? Problems that surfaced in your marriage? Did you date many others prior to becoming exclusive with each other? Did you and your former spouse date a lot prior to your engagement? Did you choose each other from an array of other possible choices?

Religion
What might have been in the religious formation (or lack thereof) for either one of you, or the both of you, that would have a negative effect on your marriage?

PART II – COURTSHIP

Dating and Engagement
How and when did you meet? How soon after you met did you decide to marry? How old were you when you were dating with the intention to get married? How old were you when you actually got married?
What you say now about the quality of your relationship while you were engaged to each other? Were there any parental objections to your either being engaged or getting married? Did anybody tell you that you should not get married to each other?
Was your engagement “smooth” or did you have a lot of problems? What was the nature of those problems? How did you resolve them? Were there “break-ups” during the time of your engagement? Were either one of your dating or “seeing” others while you were engaged to each other? Did you see anything that would cause you to suspect future difficulties between the two of you after you entered into marriage?
Prior to your wedding, did you discuss the permanence of marriage? Did either of you ever envision a set of circumstances which, if they came to pass, would end your marriage? For instance, looking ahead, if your imagined that you “caught” the other being sexually unfaithful, would that automatically end your marriage? Would spousal abuse automatically end your marriage?
Prior to your marriage, or even shortly into it, did either one of you discuss divorce as a solution to future unhappiness in the marriage? Did either one of you, or the both of you, hold to the conviction that you could divorce the other if either one felt unhappy in the marriage?
Did you, and did your former spouse, hold the conviction that once you were married you were to belong sexually and emotionally only to each other for life? Did you discuss what would happen if either one of you were to be sexually unfaithful to the other?
Did you ever discuss the question of what would happen “if our marriage did not work out”?
During the time of your engagement did any relative or any friend of either one of your get divorced? At that time, what attitudes and feelings did you express as a result?
Were there any statements made during your time of engagement which would in any way indicate that either one of you believed that marriage does not bind you both together until death?
Was there any indication that either one of you had difficulty in keeping commitments in general? Did either one of you have any history or pattern of not completing tasks once undertaken, or fulfilling promised actions? Or remaining faithful to one’s commitments?

Marriage Preparation
Did you attend any marriage preparation sessions sponsored in either of your churches or parishes? With the priest or minister who performed your marriage ceremony? How often did the three of you meet? Did you surface your own expectations about marriage (e.g. about money, sex, in-laws, roles, interests and activities, friends, etc.)?

Why Did You Decide To Marry?
Were there any “pressures”, either internal or external, to get married? Did you marry in order to get out of your parental home? Did you marry because “everybody I knew was getting married”? Were there any doubts about whether or not you should get married? What were they? Did you really decide to marry, or did you just “drift into it”? Were you really in love with your former spouse or were you in love with the idea of being married?

PART III – CEREMONY AND HONEYMOON

Unusual Circumstances or Events
Just prior to your wedding, or even during it, where there any unusual occurrences? Looking back now, do you see anything that happened (or didn’t happen) during the honeymoon that gave you second thoughts? That caused you to question whether or not you should have married?
Was there a sudden personality change on the part of either one of you either immediately after the ceremony or within the first few weeks of your marriage? Did anyone other than the two of you comment on any perceived unusual changes with either one of you?

Early Into the Marriage
Did either one of you have any problems adjusting to the demands of marriage? Were you able to meet each other’s expectations? Did you encounter any unreasonable expectations?
Did you spend enough time with each other? Were there any kind of absences from each other that seemed “odd” or unreasonable? Were there any unexplainable “absences” from each other either physically, or sexually or emotionally?
Did you experience continued attempted parental control over either one of you, or the both of you together?

PART IV – DURING THE MARRIAGE

Possible Problems
Upon entering into your marriage, did you both clearly intend to spend the rest of your lives with each other? Do be sexually faithful to each other, excluding all others and all other “outside” sexual activity? Or was all of this “assumed” and not really discussed?
Did you communicate effectively and meaningfully with each other?
Was there selfish or thoughtless behavior or attitudes in either one of you? Did either one make unreasonable demands upon the other?
Was there a true partnership, an equal and mutual partnership, in which the both of you faced all areas of life together as a team? Did one or the other seek to dominate or control the other? Seek to have “ownership” over the other?
Were there unexplained absences? Frequent arguments? Fights? Abuse? Or did one or the other give “The Silent Treatment” to the other? Was there passive-aggressive behavior directed at the other? Was their any physical or emotional violence? Battering? Abuse?
Sexual behavior or the lack of truly intimate sexual sharing can reveal a lot of disunion or lack of union in other areas of sharing. Were there any significant sexual problems?
Did you former spouse refuse to have children? Refuse to have any willingness to ever have any children at all?
Did your former spouse prevent you from attending Mass or worship services? Ridicule you for having religious beliefs? Mock your spirituality? Express hatred toward your Church?
Did you experience any excessive interference from parents of either one of you? Did you find either of you in a state of excessive dependence upon parents?
Was there any form of abuse or mistreatment of your children?’
Were there any emotional or mental disorders? Drug addiction? Alcoholism? Any form of chemical dependency?
Did you or your former spouse merely “hope for” or did you intend your marriage to be permanent? Do you see a difference between “hoping for” and “intending” your marriage to last for life?

Part V – THE BREAK-UP

Separation
When problems became intolerable, why was divorce chosen? Did either one of you, or the both of you, enter into marriage holding on to divorce as an option?
Which one of you expressed the desire to divorce? Why – what were the reasons that surfaced?
Just exactly why did you decide to break up? Was the decision mutual? Did either one of you enter into your marriage having been taught that divorce is usually the best solution in any “rough” marriage?
Prior to the actual separation was their any attempt to seek counseling? Any attempt to try to change? Was there any willingness to “work at it” together?
If there was counseling, what happened as a result? Were there any changes in attitude or behavior?
Were there any temporary separations prior to the final break-up?

Reconciliation
During the separation, or during the time when you were still living together, did either one of you try to talk things over and move toward a reconciliation? Were there any significant influences, positive or negative, from members of either family?
Were there any significant “happenings” during the time of your separation? Did any form of harassment surface? Outrageous behavior? Abuse? Threats?
Did either one of you take up with living with another person?
 


PART VI – TODAY

Present Marital Status
Have either one of you remarried? If either of you is a Catholic, is there any desire to return to regular reception of the Sacraments? Are there any other marriages on the part of either one or both of you?

Children
Who has custody of your children? Are child support obligations being met? Are the children being responsibly cared for?

Relationship With Former Spouse
Did you and your former spouse get along with each other fairly well? Poorly? Any real animosity or bitterness present? Are the children being taught to love and respect their mother and their father? Are the children being used as “pawns” in attempts to “get at” the other?

The Church
Does your former spouse have any interest in being married again in the Catholic Church? Does your former spouse have any objection to your being marriage again in the Catholic Church?
Is your relationship with your former spouse “amicable”?

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”