Marriage Tribunal - Annulment Process
The formal annulment process has four stages.
1. Application Stage – As mentioned previously, this stage involves completion of the Nullity of Marriage Application with the Petitioner’s priest/deacon/pastoral coordinator. The Nullity of Marriage application along with a document called the "Libellus of the Petitioner" are both submitted to the Marriage Tribunal.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Decision Making Stage – The Judge considers the pertinent law(s) regarding the case and the facts that have been presented and renders a decision.
It is not possible to give a time frame on how long a particular case will take because there are too many variables. For this reason no new marriage date may be given in any Catholic parish until the entire annulment process is complete.