28 Aug 2014 USA Comments (1)

UN intervention against ISIS would fit Pope's call, scholar suggests

Front Royal, Va., Aug 28, 2014 / 05:48 pm .- The Pope’s support of international action against attacks by the Islamic State should be met with United Nations i…

Read more

17 Feb 2016 Americas News No comments

Pope to Priests and Religious, "The school of prayer is the school of life"

During his homily at Mass on Tuesday February 16, the Pope spoke to the clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians. Admonishing them he said that resigna…

Read more

04 May 2016 Vatican Comments (1)

Pope Francis' Prayer Intention: That Women be honored, valued and respected

The Pope's prayer intentions for May have been released via video Pope Francis has called for women in all countries to be “honoured respected and valued". …

Read more

15 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (8)

What is the appropriate means to dispose of an old Bible?

Full Question What is the appropriate means to dispose of an old Bible? Answer There is no specifically mandated means of disposing of old Bibles…

Read more

23 Nov 2016 Articles No comments

Three dynamic emerging Catholic communities in the UK

A closer look at three communities breathing fresh life into the Church It is very easy to feel downhearted about the Church within our nation today. So many d…

Read more

20 Oct 2016 News Comments (1)

Pornography lessons? Not at my school, says Catholic headmaster

Dr James Whitehead has responded to calls for pornography to be taught in schools The headmaster of Downside School has spoken out against suggestions that por…

Read more

26 Sep 2015 News USA Comments (1)

Full Text: Pope Francis' address to the United Nations General Assembly

Read the full text of Pope Francis' address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2015, here: Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you…

Read more

26 Oct 2016 Articles Comments (2)

On Behalf of the Holy See

EDITOR'S NOTE: We were sent this interesting commentary from Dr. Harold Warren, MD, and have decided to publish it for your consideration. We certainly agree th…

Read more

03 Jun 2016 Australia Europe News USA Vatican No comments

Patriarch Bartholomew calls for unity ahead of Orthodox “Great Council"

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has issued a call for unity ahead of an historic meeting of the 14 independent Orthodox churches due to take place later this…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

If my mother annuls her marriage to my father, does that mean my siblings and I are illegitimate?

Full Question

My mother was divorced six years ago now, and has just recently been thinking about starting the annulment process. A question arose when we were discussing this: Would my siblings and I be considered illegitimate, that since the marriage was annulled, it is considered to never have existed, thus making us born out of wedlock?


The bottom line answer to your question is that an annulment has no effect whatsoever on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the children born from a particular union. Children either are or are not illegitimate, regardless of whether an annulment is granted or not.

Most of the time, even when an annulment is granted, the children are still legitimate. This is because canon law specifies that “Children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate” (CIC 1137). “An invalid marriage is called putative if it has been celebrated in good faith by at least one of the parties, until both parties become certain of its nullity” (CIC 1061 §3). This means that as long as oneof the parties thought they were being married, all of the children born of that union will be legitimate.

The only way for invalid children to be born would be if neither party thought they were getting married (that is, both knew going in that the union was invalid) or if both at some point become certain that their union is invalid yet keep having children anyway. (In the latter case, the only illegitimate children would be those born after the point that both parties became certain.)

It is also possible, even when children have been born illegitimately that they can be rendered canonically legitimate (CIC 1139). This is possible because legitimacy is a legal rather than a moral concept. It is used in various law systems to determine such things as child support and inheritance rights, but it is no reflection on the child.

1 comment

  1. Robert Diano Reply

    The church requires couples to have a marriage license before a church wedding so a legal marriage already exists without the sacrament. Any children born from that legal union are legitimate. An annulment of the sacramental marriage makes no comment on the legitimacy of any children.

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories