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Tribunal Procedure

How is a marriage investigated for invalidity?

  1. The first step is to contact your local pastor. It is important that you do this yourself and not through another individual. After receiving some preliminary information, you will be given a preliminary investigation form to fill out and submit to the tribunal offic​e, along with your certificate of divorce. Please make sure your application is filled out completely as missing information (ex. contact information of an ex-spouse) will delay your case.

  2. After you've completed your application, it is send to the tribunal. When we receive this application a writ of petition (called a libellus) is prepared for you and sent for your signature.

  3. When the tribunal receives your signed writ of petition and the judge finds sufficient evidence for the case to proceed, the writ is admitted and the parties (your ex-spouse and the defender of the bond) are cited to participate. The tribunal will make every attempt to contact your divorced spouse to inform them of the proceedings, invite them to participate, and ask them to name witnesses.

  4. After your ex-spouse has responded or been declared absent, the case will be examined by the judicial vicar who will determine the appropriate ground of nullity to be examined in this case. He will also determine whether to use the ordinary or brief form based on the facts of the case. You will be notified of his decision.

  5. You, your ex-spouse (if they participate), and your witnesses will be interviewed under oath at length about the relationship.

  6. All material will be assembled and collated; this is formally done by the publication of the acts. At this time both you and your divorced spouse (if they participated) have the right to view any acts which are not known to you.

  7. After the judge issues a decree of conclusion your case will be given to the defender of the bond who will make any and all arguments for the validity of the marriage.

  8. The case will be evaluated by a collegial panel of three judges who, in view of the information in the case and based on Church law, make a decision as to the nullity of the marriage. For brief cases, this is done by the Cardinal-Archbishop.

  9. You and your divorced spouse will be notified of this decision and given a time period to formally appeal. The defender of the bond also has the right to appeal the decision.

  10. If one of the parties appeals, the case is forwarded to the designated appeal court (either the Sacred Roman Rota or the Canadian Appeals Tribunal). If no party appeals, after fifteen days the decision becomes effective and the parties are informed of the tribunal decision.