Marriage Annulment Process
When there has been a previous marriage and divorce, regardless of whether that marriage took place in a Roman Catholic ceremony or not, a request for an annulment of that marriage must be processed. Regardless their religion of baptism and place of current worship a declaration of nullity is necessary. The person who requests the decree is the Petitioner; the other party is referred to as the Respondent. The Tribunal then conducts an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the marriage, especially during the exchange of their vows to establish whether there was ever a marital bond as understood by the Catholic Church. If not, the marriage is considered invalid and a Decree of Nullity granted.
To petition for an annulment, contact the Marriage Preparation Minister
at Saint Raphael and Our Lady of the Valley.
A convenient meeting time for couples can be established to discuss procedures for submitting your case and to determine how best to proceed. You will be asked to provide the following documents for your first meeting.
For more detailed requests you will also be asked to complete a Petitioner questionnaire as an investigation into why you believe the marriage should be declared null. This testimony will determine on what grounds (the reason it should be declared nullified) the case will be submitted.
For these formal cases we will require that you submit at least 3 witnesses who are willing to complete questionnaires detailing their observations of the marriage especially during the couples courtship and subsequent to the marriage ceremony. They are the ones who sensed that there were problems before the marriage took place.
When all the paperwork is complete and documents signed the packet with processing fees is submitted to the Tribunal. At this stage of the annulment process, the Respondent must be cited. As a party to the marriage, he/she must be contacted about the investigation of the marriage. He/she has a right to:
You do not contact with the Respondent. The Tribunal communicates with him/her.
You provide any contact information you might have for him/her.
The judge(s) now examines the evidence to determine whether the marriage was valid. The case can receive an Affirmative decision, meaning it was determined the marriage was invalid, or a Negative decision, meaning the presumption that the marriage is valid was not overturned and the marriage consent was valid. If the decision was negative, the petitioner can submit an appeal to a higher court.
If the judge(s) renders an "Affirmative" decision, the case is automatically sent to a second court, or appellate court, for review. There are three possible outcomes when a case is sent to an appellate court for review. The court can: