Annulment: Does the Coptic Church recognize a divorce if the marriage was financially, emotionally, and physically/sexually abusive? What about if both parties were too young and did not understand the seriousness of the commitment of marriage?
Annulment is a very serious matter as it will disqualify the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It is only allowed under strict guidelines and the results prepared in a report of a thorough investigation and evaluation conducted by a team of clergy to determine the veracity of the allegations. Each case is studied and evaluated on an individual basis. Sometimes specialists from various disciplines, such as physicians and/or psychologists, are asked to consult. Claims of infidelity, domestic violence, mental abuse, sexual abuse or perversion, alcohol or drug abuse, compulsive gambling, and in some cases, a failure to disclose pertinent personal information prior to the marriage, e.g., medical/psychological history, etc. are investigated. During this process, the safety and welfare of the alleged victims are imperative and measures are put in place for their care to the best of the church’s ability.
Since at the time of marriage, both intended spouses were legal adults, both of their families agreed to their holy union, and the spiritual fathers had consulted with them and given them their blessings, therefore, the couple must assume the responsibility of their decisions. The only age requirement is to be legal adults within the jurisdictions of their residences. Too young or too old is not a good enough reason for marriage, divorce, or annulment. If the couple was indeed too young, whether in their chronological or spiritual age, and did not take their commitment as seriously as they should have, what is stopping them from trying to learn and to have a better understanding of marriage now? Marriage requires the couple to work at it throughout their lives. By their dedication and commitment to God and to their vows in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the marriage can still have many blessings and success.