If there is ample evidence against the other spouse, permission to remarry is granted. If there is not enough evidence or documentation available to make a decision, the investigative priest is asked to look further into some aspects or issues. If it is not possible to meet the individual under scrutiny, a certified letter is sent. An explanation of certain unclear or disputable issues is requested. If there is no response after a reasonable period, that person forfeits his/her right and the judgment would be in favor of the other spouse. Both sides may be found to violate Church doctrine and no clearance would be given to either person.
In rare cases, an annulment is declared, which is as if the marriage did not happen. The main reasons for annulments are that the marriage was based on fraud or misrepresentations such as:
- One person was already married either in Egypt or elsewhere. Hence, his/her statement of clearance is fraudulent and the marriage is invalid.
- One of the spouses has a physical problem that was not disclosed to the other person. This includes but is not limited to a serious illness prior to the marriage e.g. cancer, heart condition, or tuberculosis…etc.
- The man/woman was presented to be a virgin while he/ she was not. This is sometimes difficult to prove and requires investigation and proper documentation.
- Mental illness prior to marriage e.g. schizophrenia, obsessive behavior, or other mental disorders. This situation requires the opinion of a mental health professional as to the probability of timing the beginning of the illness (prior to marriage).
- Misrepresentation of facts such as pretending to be rich or holding a high position, which influenced the other party in accepting the marriage. The situation often occurs specifically when a man living in the U.S. goes to Egypt to find a bride.
- Inability to have a sexual relationship either for medical or psychological reasons. This is usually found in men, but occasionally in women as well.
- Prior knowledge by the woman that she cannot conceive and bare children, which is unbeknown to the future husband.
In annulments, the victim is given an outright permission to remarry. The person who erred would be given strict conditions if he/she requests permission. He/she has to show complete disclosure of his/her situation and condition to any future prospective spouse. Annulments are very few. Many are denied due to lack of evidence.
In other cases, the spouses are asked to reconsider. Some spouses try, while others may not, and may leave the Church, get a civil divorce and remarry outside the church. Sometimes women with children, simply accept the marital separation and stay separated raising the children alone. If the financial aspect is contested, it has to go through the courts.