How to apply for an Annulment
An appointment should be made with any priest/deacon/pastoral coordinator with whom you feel comfortable (most often this is your parish priest). At this appointment you will be given the Annulment Application and any instruction you may need. Once the Annulment Application is completed, please sign it. The priest/deacon/pastoral coordinator will also sign the application and forward it to the Marriage Tribunal with your civil marriage license, divorce decree and baptismal certificate, if baptized. As the person submitting the application, you are considered the Petitioner in the case.
Regarding the Respondent (your former spouse)
The full name and current address of your former spouse, the Respondent, must be included in order for us to determine whether our Tribunal has jurisdiction to judge the case. According to Church Law, we must contact the Respondent so that he/she may participate in the proceedings if he/she desires to do so. If after you have made every effort to obtain the address of your former spouse, and are unsuccessful, you must provide a detailed letter to the Tribunal of your efforts. This letter should explain what steps have been taken to try to locate your former spouse. This will prevent unnecessary delay.
Church Law requires that the testimony of the Petitioner be corroborated by Witnesses. The Witnesses are simply people who knew well the partners in the marriage. Anyone, including family, relatives and friends may testify. The Witness Questionnaires will be sent directly to the Petitioner for distribution. It is then the Petitioner’s responsibility to follow-up with the Witnesses to make sure that the questionnaires have been completed and returned to the Tribunal Office.
Because of the sensitive nature of the information gathered in this process, all the information gathered in the course of an investigation is considered confidential. The information is never made available except as may be authorized by Church Law as stated below: During the course of the study, the Acts (testimony) is made available (to read) to the Petitioner and the Respondent. Under Church Law the judge has authority to determine whether the Petitioner and/or Respondent should be permitted access to certain information. It is important to keep in mind that any testimony that a party asks to be kept from the other party, may not be used by the Judge in making his decision.
The testimony in the case is never made available to the Witnesses or to anyone acting in their behalf or to any civil court.
The formal annulment process has four states.
Application Stage – As mentioned previously, this stage involves completion of the Annulment Application with the Petitioner’s priest/deacon/pastoral coordinator and then its submission to the Marriage Tribunal.
Investigation Stage – When the Marriage Tribunal receives the Annulment Application, the investigation begins. After the Judicial Vicar has read the case, he will accept it, or if he does not feel it has merit, may return the application to the Petitioner for more information. Once the case is accepted by the Judicial Vicar, the Tribunal contacts the former spouse, the Respondent. Later the Petitioner is sent Witness Questionnaires to distribute to his/her Witnesses. The Tribunal may need to contact the Petitioner again if the testimony is not adequate.
Publication Stage – The judge sends a letter to the Petitioner and the Respondent indicating that they may inspect the Acts (testimony) at the Tribunal Office. The Parties may submit additional testimony after they have read the Acts, if they so desire.
Decision Making Stage – The Judge considers the pertinent law(s) regarding the case and the facts that have been presented and renders a decision.
Types of marriage cases Click here