A: No. The legitimacy of children is determined by the laws of the states. Just as a divorce does not make children illegitimate, neither does an annulment granted by the Church. The laws of the Church state that children born into a marriage that are recognized by the state are legitimate children. Therefore, if the marriage is later shown to have been invalid, the status of the children remains unchanged: they are legitimate.
A: No. In the United States, a declaration that a marriage was invalid from the start has no effect before the laws of any state. It does not affect anything that is determined by civil law such as alimony, child custody, visitation rights, division of property, legitimacy of the children, etc. A declaraton of nullity affects only one’s relationship to the Roman Catholic Church and remarriage after a civil divorce.
A: A petition to study a marriage that has ended in civil divorce can begin on the Parish level with the priest or other Parish minister assisting who then submits your petition to the Tribunal. Also, a petition can begin at the Tribunal Office with one of the Tribunal staff members. Please see “Annulment Forms”, print off the correct form and submit it to the Tribunal office with all the required documents.
No wedding date must be set until an affirmative decision has been rendered. The annulment process requires the following:
A) The petitioner contacts his/her parish priest or a Tribunal staff member in order to petition and begin the annulment procedure. Your parish priest can give you the correct annulment form or you can print it from this website. Please see “Annulment Forms”, to print off the correct form needed at the left of this page.
B) When there are ground(s) for a declaration of nullity, the Tribunal will contact both, the petitioner and the respondent.
C) Prior to the formal hearing you, the petitioner, must complete and return the witness list. Witnesses include 2-3 adult people who knew you prior to and during your marriage and can give us information about the marriage. At the time of the formal hearing you, the petitioner, must bring these witnesses in with you. A witness can be a brother, sister, parent, friend, co-worker, neighbor or a member of the wedding party. Witnesses should not all be relatives. We do not interview children of the marriage. At the formal hearing the petitioner and the witnesses will be questioned privately and information obtained in the interview will not be shared with anyone except the members of the Court.
D) If the petition comes to formal hearing the following will occur:
Please note that the decision will be rendered in a timely fashion and is not contingent on full payment of fee. If you have additional questions about annulment procedures, contact the Diocese of Saint Cloud Office of The Tribunal: (320) 251-6557
A: There is simply no way to promise that your case will be completed within a certain period of time or that the outcome will be in your favor. However, the general norm is that it takes approximately 12 months. The time frame for a declaration of nullity depends on many factors. For instance, if the petitioner does not complete the necessary document gathering in a timely fashion, the annulment will be delayed.
A: As of July 1, 2016, the Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud will no longer be charging a set fee for annulments. With the promulgation of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Mitis Judex Dominus Jesus, this fee has been eliminated. There are many expenses involved in the process and to help defray these expenses, you may wish to make a donation. https://www.stcdio.org/pay.
A: Yes. Some cases are given a negative decision; that is, the judge decides that the marriage was a valid and binding union. If this should happen, you will be notified of that decision by the Tribunal. You would then have the option of appealing the decision to either the Appellate Court in St. Paul/Minneapolis or the Roman Rota. The Roman Rota is the Supreme Court of the Church for marriage cases (among other things).
• Copies of the baptismal certificates of all Catholic parties involved.
• A copy of the civil marriage license.
• A copy of the church marriage certificate
• A copy of the divorce decree certified or signed by the Judge.
Neither is an annulment a statement that a marriage never existed civilly or in the Church. Rather, it is a determination that certain conditions were present at the time the marriage was entered that made it an invalid union according to Catholic Church teaching. The civil effects and recognition of that marriage remain intact and unchanged. An annulment is not a statement that the marriage was entered into in bad faith by either of the parties. It is not a statement of who caused the marriage to fail or who was most guilty for its failure. Those are certainly important questions for a person to ask. But they are not the questions a Tribunal must answer. The annulment process, in its most simple form, involves any person coming to the Church and asking to be heard. Information is gathered by us and in the end, we answer that person’s request: the marriage was invalid or valid according to the laws of the Church.
A: The decision becomes final when the Diocese of Saint Cloud Tribunal give an affirmative decision (meaning that the marriage in question was invalid).
A: After all of the information is gathered, a panel of judges will write the decision. They will decide whether or not the marriage was indeed invalid from the start. Another person who is known as the Defender of the Bond also participates. The Defender of the Bond represents the marriage itself, speaking in favor of all the facts that support the validity of the marriage. After the judge reaches a decision, both you and your former will be notified of the decision (unless the former spouse does not wish to be notified). If either of you disagrees with it, there is a process of appeal available to you. The decision can be appealed either to the Appellate Court, the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
Divorced people, no matter what their religious affiliation, have a carefully protected right in this Church to ask the Church to determine whether or not their previous marriage was valid. If they are not of the Catholic faith, they seek this generally because they wish to remarry, and the intended spouse is a Catholic who wants the marriage to be recognized by the Catholic Church. We respect the vows of marriage of all people, no matter what their religious affiliation is. Members of the Catholic Church, however, are bound to have their marriage recognized by the Church. This is why members of other churches must often go through an annulment process before they can marry someone in the Catholic Church.
A: You are asked to contact two or more people who might express a willingness to help with your case. These should be people who know something about the marriage in question, especially the period right before and right after your wedding. These people usually are friends or family members. You should tell all the witnesses that they have your permission to speak freely to the court.
A: You are more than welcome to call the Tribunal at (320) 251-6557 and talk to one of the staff persons who can assist you. Or send us an email.