The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is, by God's plan, an enduring and exclusive partnership between a man and a woman for the giving and receiving of love, and for the procreation and education of children. This is in accord with the Gospels, with the writings of St. Paul , and centuries of Christian tradition.
Every marriage - or, at least every first marriage - including that between non-Catholics, is presumed to be valid. However this presumption could be wrong. Hence the need for a tribunal to study the validity or otherwise of a marriage.
An annulment may be granted if evidence shows that from the beginning of the marriage - at the time of the wedding - it suffered a basic and profound defect and was, therefore, invalid.
So only when it can be proved that a marriage was, in fact, never valid in the first place, may the Church declare it null. It is important to understand that an annulment does not imply that the marriage was entered into with ill-will or with moral fault, or that a real relationship did not exist. Rather, an annulment is a statement by the Church that, in at least one element essential for a life long union, the marriage was deficient from the start.
There are no civil effects from the Church's declaration of nullity of a marriage. Children of a marriage are declared by law to be legitimate. Property and access rights between the parties are unaffected by an annulment.
In testing a broken marriage, the Church is seeking the truth of the matter - was it a marriage according to the criteria of the Catholic Church? We are bound to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus laid out so clearly in Luke 16:18, Mark 10:1 ff and 1 Corinthians 7:10 ff.
Facing our past is not easy, but it is the richest path for allowing us to move ahead. Throughout each region of the diocese we have a wonderful team of trained Tribunal personnel who work with our office director to assist people who are ready to begin the annulment process, or who simply want more information about what is involved.
If you would like to discuss your situation with the Tribunal, in the first instance make contact with Tribunal Office. You are assured of a warm and courteous welcome.