​Types of Marriage Cases

Lack of Form Case

 

The "Lack of Form" is a simple case that declares a marriage invalid because a baptized Catholic did not contract the marriage according to Church law.  A Catholic must contract marriage in the presence of an authorized priest or deacon and two adult witnesses.

 

Conditions:

  • At least one of the parties to a marriage must be a baptized Catholic. The baptism must have taken place before the marriage.

  • The marriage was conducted by a civil official (justice of the peace), non-Catholic minister, a friend, etc.

 

Documents need to file:

  • Please fill out the form in the right column labeled “Lack of Form”.

  • Marriage certificate 

  • Divorce decree

  • A baptismal certificate for the Catholic party dated within the last six months (not an original) listing the annotations from the baptismal register.

 

Please note:

  • A baptized Catholic who has formally rejected the faith before the marriage cannot be given this decree of nullity since that marriage is considered valid.

  • A baptized Catholic who contracts marriage before an Orthodox priest, even without permission of the Catholic Church, contracts a valid marriage.

 

Fee: free

 

Time to process: 2 weeks

 

 

Ligamen (Prior Bond) Case

 

The Ligamen is based on the fact that if a person married a person who had been married before and divorced, the first spouse is non-Catholic and still living, and there has been no declaration of invalidity by the Church of that first bond of marriage, that marriage was not valid because a prior bond existed. If the marriage in question ends in divorce, the Petitioner may have that bond declared invalid because a prior bond existed. Thus he or she is now free to contract a true marriage bond.

 

Conditions:

  • John marries Mary;

  • John was previously married to Agnes and they divorced;

  • Agnes was still alive when John married Mary;

  • John and Agnes's marriage was not declared null by the Church;

  • John and Mary get a divorce;

  • Mary wants to marry Edward;

  • Mary proves that John was not free to marry her because he still had a bond recognized by the Church to Agnes;

  • Mary is now free to marry and thus marries Edward.

 

Documents needed to file:

  • Marriage certificate of that first marriage (John and Agnes)

  • Divorce decree for the first marriage (John and Agnes)

  • Marriage certificate of the subsequent marriage (John and Mary)

  • Divorce decree for that marriage (John and Mary)

 

Fee: free

 

Time to process: varies

Pauline Privilege Case

 

The Pauline Privilege applies only when both parties were unbaptized at the time of the marriage. Two non-baptized persons marry. One chooses to become baptized. After the baptism, the unbaptized person finds he or she cannot live in harmony with the baptized person. The marriage can be dissolved when the baptized person enters into a marriage with another baptized person. It is not the same as an annulment.  The Pauline Privilege is based on 1 Cor. 7:12-15  (Paul allowed a convert who had married as a pagan, whose pagan spouse divorces him or her, is free to marry).  The Pauline Privilege dissolves the former non-sacramental marriage.

 

Conditions:

  • Both parties were unbaptized (or not validly baptized) at the time of the contract of marriage.

  • Neither was baptized during the course of the marriage, or only one was baptized. If the Petitioner was baptized, the Respondent must remain unbaptized.

  • The parties separated and were civilly divorced.

  • There is no hope of reconciliation.

  • The Petitioner must receive Baptism.

  • The Petitioner must be planning marriage or convalidation with a Catholic party.

  • If either the Petitioner does not desire Baptism and/or is not planning marriage, the Pauline Privilege cannot be granted.

 

Documents needed to file:

  • Certificate of Marriage

  • Divorce Decree

  • Baptismal form for Petitioner

 

Please note: If one party was baptized and the other unbaptized at the time of the marriage, the marriage is non-sacramental but can be dissolved only by the Pope, exercising his authority as the Vicar of Christ. This is called the Petrine Privilege.

 

Fee: free

 

Time to process: varies

Formal Annulment

 

All marriages are presumed valid unless challenged.  When a marriage takes place between two non-Catholics, any marriage performed by a priest or deacon, and any marriage that had a dispensation or was later convalidated must go through the formal annulment process to establish freedom to remarry.

 

Documents needed to file:

  • Formal Annulment application (right column)

  • Certificate of Marriage

  • Divorce Decree

  • Baptismal form of Petitioner

 

Fee: free

 

Time to process: 5 to12 months

 

Steps of a Formal Annulment:

 

  1. Application is filled out after meeting with your advocate (normally your pastor)

  2. Also fill out the Libellus form which is a written statement by you (the Petitioner) that explains in your own words why the marriage did not work.

  3. Petition is submitted to the Diocese of Marquette Marriage Tribunal

  4. Initial grounds for the annulment are established.

  5. The Respondent is given a survey.

  6. Your witnesses are given a survey.

  7. Evidence is reviewed by the Marriage Tribunal.

  8. There is a publication of the acts to both parties. (the grounds the case will be tried)

  9. Conclusion

  10. Review by the Defender of the Bond.

  11. Review by Advocates for both parties.

  12. A decision is reach by the Diocese of Marquette Marriage Tribunal 

  13. A final decree of invalidity/validity is issued

  14. You may make an appeal

Marriage Case Matrix

Need help deciding which type of marriage case you need to file?

Did You Know?

Formal vs Informal Cases

 

An annulment (formal case) is a declaration by a marriage tribunal that the parties of a marriage never entered into a valid marriage due to defective consent. Defective consent is focused upon the intentions and capacities of each of the parties to a marriage at the time of the exchange of vows. 

 

An informal case or administrative process does not go to "trial" but is rather processed on paper.  These include a lack of form and a ligamen. The Pauline & Petrine Privilege are types of dissolution.

 

Grounds for an Annulment

 

  • Lack of sufficient reason (Canon 1095.1)  You or your spouse did not know what was happening during the marriage ceremony because of insanity, mental illness, or a lack of consciousness.

 

  • Lack of due discretion  or immature (Canon 1095.2) You or your spouse was affected by some serious circumstances or factors that made you unable to judge or evaluate either the decision to marry or the ability to create a true marital relationship.

 

  • Lack of competence (Canon 1095.3) You or your spouse, at the time of consent, was unable to fulfill the obligations of marriage because of a serious psychological disorder or other condition.

 

  • Ignorance about the nature of marriage (Canon 1096.1) You or your spouse did not know that marriage is a permanent relationship between a man and a woman ordered toward the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.

 

  • Error of person or quality (Canon 1097.1) You or your spouse intended to marry a specific individual who was not the individual with whom marriage was celebrated. (For example, mail order brides)

 

  • Error about a quality of a person (Canon 1097.2) You or your spouse intended to marry someone who either possessed or did not possess a certain quality, e.g., social status, marital status, education, religious conviction, freedom from disease, or arrest record. That quality must have been directly and principally intended.

 

  • Fraud or hiding a bad trait (Canon 1098) You or your spouse was intentionally deceived about the presence or absence of a quality in the other. The reason for this deception was to obtain consent to marriage.

 

  • Simulation or acting married (Canon 1101.2) You or your spouse did not intend to contract marriage as the law of the Catholic Church understands marriage. Rather, the ceremony was observed solely as a means of obtaining something other than marriage itself, e.g., to obtain legal status in the country or to legitimize a child.

 

  • Willful exclusion of children (Canon 1101.2) You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, to deny the other's right to sexual acts open to procreation.

 

  • Willful exclusion of marital fidelity (Canon 1101.2) You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, not to remain faithful.

 

  • Willful exclusion of marital permanence (Canon 1101.2) You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, not to create a permanent relationship, retaining an option to divorce.

 

  • Future condition (Canon 1102.2) You or your spouse attached a future condition to your decision to marry, e.g., you will complete your education, your income will be at a certain level, you will remain in this area.

 

  • Past condition (Canon 1102.2) You or your spouse attached a past condition so your decision to marry and that condition did not exist; e.g., I will marry you provided that you have never been married before, I will marry you provided that you have graduated from college.

 

  • Present condition (Canon 1102.2) You or your spouse attached a present condition to your decision to marry and that condition did not exist, e.g., I will marry you provided you don't have any debt.

 

  • Force (Canon 1103) You or your spouse married because of an external physical or moral force that you could not resist.

 

  • Fear (Canon 1103) You or your spouse chose to marry because of fear that was grave and inescapable and was caused by an outside source.

 

  • Error regarding marital unity that determined the will (Canon 1099) You or your spouse married believing that marriage was not necessarily an exclusive relationship.

 

  • Error regarding marital indissolubility that determined the will (Canon 1099) You or your spouse married believing that civil law had the power to dissolve marriage and that remarriage was acceptable after civil divorce.

 

  • Error regarding marital sacramental dignity that determined the will (Canon 1099) You and your spouse married believing that marriage is not a religious or sacred relationship but merely a civil contract or arrangement.

 

  • Lack of new consent during convalidation (Canons 1157, 1160) After your civil marriage, you and your spouse participated in a Catholic ceremony and you or your spouse believed that (1) you were already married, (2) the Catholic ceremony was merely a blessing, and (3) the consent given during. the Catholic ceremony had no real effect.