"Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly."
Isaiah 58: 8
The Church regards marriage as one of the seven sacraments.
Either spouse in the marriage may at some point challenge its validity before an ecclesiastical tribunal. The role of the tribunal is to take evidence from both parties to the marriage and such witnesses as they may choose to put forward.
A Declaration of Nullity, commonly known as an annulment, is a formal recognition that one or more of these elements essential to marriage was missing at the time of consent. Both parties are informed of the decision.
Rev. John A. Barry, Ph.D., J.C.D.,
ph (902) 232-2272
To obtain a Declaration of Nullity:
1. When you have your final divorce decree, call your parish priest for an appointment. Fill out the preliminary application form. Before contacting the Tribunal for an appointment you will need your baptismal certificate and if possible that of your ex; the marriage certificate and the divorce certificate with the red sticker.
2. When you come for the interview it will be in an informal atmosphere. It is a one on one situation. No one else is present. There is no cross-examination. A written record will be made of the interview. Your former spouse, known in the proceedings as the Respondent, has the right to be interviewed and if the Respondent exercises this right, then he or she will be interviewed on a day separate from you.
3. You will need to provide the names of three witnesses. These should be people who knew both parties. It does not matter if they live in other parts of the country or overseas. The tribunal office closest to the witness will be contacted and asked to do the interview. Why witnesses are required is because the rights of two people and the sanctity of marriage are involved, so the tribunal needs sound evidence before it declares a marriage invalid.
4. The Respondent is sent a summons, a registered letter, after your interview and before the witnesses are contacted. Regardless of who initiates the annulment inquiry, the rights of both parties are equal before Church law. The Church is concerned with was the marriage valid and not who wants the annulment.
5. When all the evidence is gathered, the case goes for what is known as first judgment. A judge will review the case, prepare a sentence by way of arguments and render a decision as to whether the marriage is valid. Both parties receive a letter on the decision.
1. Does an annulment make my children illegitimate?
Divorce did not make your children illegitimate and neither will an annulment. A Declaration of Nullity states that a true marriage bond did not come into being, even though one or both parties tried to the best of their ability to bring it about. Even has a natural right to marriage. The Church tribunal addresses whether it was a sacramental union.
2. When can I set the date for my wedding?
No priest can accept a booking for a wedding unless and until a Declaration of Nullity is issued. It would create serious difficulties for you if the date you had set came close and no decree had been issued.
3. What if my case is urgent?
Everyone feels their case is urgent. The tribunal handles the cases in the order in which they are received.
4. What is convalidation?
Convalidation is a juridical process by which an apparent but invalid marriage is transformed into a true and valid marriage. It is not a blessing on an existing civil relationship which, for example, may have been contracted before a Justice of the Peace. It is contracting marriage anew in the Church.
5. What is the cost?
No fee is charged, but a donation to help offset the cost of the process is greatly appreciated.