Faith and Religion
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If your marriage is deemed invalid by a church tribunal (a Catholic Church court), then it may be possible to have it annulled.   An annulment declares a marriage thought to be accepted under Church law is actually missing a key component that is required for a binding union. 

The word itself refers to a declaration of nullity in the eyes of the Church, yet it actually does not grant any nullification.  It also does not nullify a relationship existed and/or that a civil union took place.  Rather, it means it was canonically not valid by Church law.

Do I have to have my marriage annulled when I divorce?

No.  But, it's a requirement to have a marriage annulled prior to being allowed to marry again in the Catholic Church regardless if the marriage has been legally dissolved or annulled.  Another circumstance of which a married individual would be "free to marry" in the Church is if his/her spouse died.   

These requirements hold true even if your  marriage was recognized by another religion and/or you are a non-believing person. 

When the request for annulment is brought before a church tribunal, the validity of the binding union in the Church, regarding the marriage the petitioner wishes to annul, will be examined based on the following:

Validations at the time the marriage took place:

1. Both spouses are free to marry.

2. Both spouses are capable to give their consent.

3. They freely exchange their consent.

4. Their intentions to consent to marriage include their willingness to marry for life, be faithful to one another and be open to having children.

5. They intend the good of each other.

6. Their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized church minister (exceptions to this requirement must be approved by the Church authority).

There is typically a nominal fee and/or donation requested to perform the annulment. 

The tribunal process has numerous steps that involve the petitioner providing written testimony and a list of persons who are familiar with the marriage.  All parties to the tribunal process must be willing and able to answer questions regarding the marriage. 

The respondent, the former spouse, will also be contacted if he/she did not co-sign the petition.  The respondent has a right to be involved in the process, but the process will move forward even if he/she does not wish to be part of the annulment process.

A tribunal official will determine the process and upon selecting the appropriate process each spouse will be allowed to read non-civilly protected testimony submitted. 

Each spouse has the right to have a Church advocate represent him/her and a representative of the Church, called the defender of the bond, to argue the validity of the marriage. 

The process time period varies based on the type of process chosen by the tribunal official.  

Are there other processes other than annulment for legally divorced individuals to marry in the Catholic Church?

Yes.  There are unique circumstances not applicable under the process of annulment that may lead to other procedures and cases such as "Lack of Form" and "Privilege of the Faith".  If there are not unique variations to your previous marriage or circumstance then it's unlikely your petition will fall outside the normal annulment process.

More information contact your local parish or find more specific information at:


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