Annulment FAQs

Annulment FAQs

It is properly known as a declaration of nullity of a marriage. An annulment is a declaration by a Tribunal (a Court of the Catholic Church) that marriage consent was invalid, that is, a bond was not made. It does not assign blame or guilt to either person. It merely states that on the wedding day, there was no meeting of consent by the bride and the groom.

  • Catholics who are divorced and wish to remarry in the Church
  • Catholics who are divorced and have married outside of the Church
  • Divorced non-Catholics who want to marry a Catholic
  • Divorced non-Catholics married to a Catholic outside of the Church
  • Divorced non-Catholics who wish to come into the Church

All prior marriage bonds must be investigated to declare someone free to marry in the Church. All attempts to marry are presumed valid by the Church until proven otherwise.

Even for those who perhaps will not remarry, the annulment process can bring a sense of closure; the members of the Tribunal, as well as those who assist at the parish level, strive to make this a Healing Ministry.

The Tribunal is the judicial branch of the local church. The officials assist the Bishop in matters of canon law. Canon law is the ecclesiastical law of the Church, made of 1,752 canons (laws) binding the Latin Rite Church. A separate Code exists for the Eastern Rite Churches. The ministers of the Tribunal are bound to protect and apply these laws in nullity cases, as well as in other situations requiring legal action.

Yes. If you are divorced and not living in a sexual relationship with anyone, you may receive the Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick.

By law, the Court must contact both parties in the process. If the Respondent (the other party) will not participate, the case can move forward. The party petitioning for the nullity (the Petitioner) and the Respondent will both have an opportunity to testify.

Part of beginning the process is the Petitioner’s completed questionnaire; the Respondent will be given the same opportunity. Both parties need to provide detailed answers to questions, longer than one or two sentences; there will be questions about you and your spouse. The questions are about family history, personality traits, dating history, your relationship with the other party, your intentions upon entering marriage, your understanding of marriage, and the life of the marriage.

Just as in a civil law trial, a party must prove his or her case through statements and other proofs.

The parties will also be asked to provide witnesses. Witnesses are people who can discuss your family history, your upbringing, your relationship history, details about your courtship, from the time around the wedding, as well as what married life was like. Yes and No answers are to be avoided.

The Petitioner and the Respondent can contact their witnesses to ask them if they have submitted their statements to the Tribunal.

The annulment process evaluates the readiness of the parties, their mental well-being,their knowledge about the rights and obligations of marriage, and their willingness to commit to a valid act of marriage consent. Detailed statements assist the Court in coming to a decision.

The Court may also request documentation that would prove consent to be invalid, such as when there is the presence of an impediment, or a Catholic party did not follow the proper form of marriage. Your parish-based Advocate will provide more guidance.

When a Catholic does not marry according to canonical form, i.e. marry in the Church, the marriage is not considered valid. A convalidation is a new act of consent; a Catholic in a civil union marries in the Church. It is a new bond; it is not a blessing of the civil union. Both parties must be free to marry and participate in a marriage preparation program.

Yes! All marriages are presumed valid until proven otherwise, including the marriages of non-Catholics, or those who are not baptized.

The Diocese of Dallas provides a trained priest, deacon, and/or layperson at every parish to assist with the application process for an annulment. You will be appointed an Advocate to assist you. The initial questionnaire is available here.

  • Explain the nullity process and procedures
  • Assist Petitioner in which forms to use
  • Review the baptismal status of Petitioner, Respondent, and all former spouses and intended spouse
  • Review the information and request any further information
  • Give assistance when additional information is required