The Tribunal of the Diocese of Saint Cloud has established a policy that the annulment process will not be started until six months after issuance of the final divorce decree.
A wedding date cannot be set until notified by the Tribunal that the process is complete and 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.
1) The petitioner needs to present copies of the following documents at the time of the application:
a) Baptismal certificate of self and of former spouse. (copies are sufficient)
b) Certificate of marriage. (copies are sufficient)
c) Divorce decree (Final Judgment). (copies are sufficient)
d) Current address of former spouse. (We cannot start a Formal Petition without this)
2) The petitioner has a recorded preliminary interview (with a Tribunal Staff Member) –OR– writes a narrative that covers in depth the following factual information about the petitioner and his/her former spouse:
a) Description of childhood and home life of self and former spouse. Alcoholism or chemical addiction in family background?
b) Description of dating process and maturity of self and former spouse.
c) Description of how the decision to marry was reached.
d) Description of ability to communicate and resolve conflicts.
e) Description of problems that developed in the marriage and when they began.
f) Description of attempted solutions to the problems.
g) Description of performance of roles of husband/wife, father/mother.
h) Description of how the decision to divorce was reached.
B) When there are ground(s) for a declaration of nullity, the Tribunal will contact both, the petitioner and the respondent. This step happens about 4 weeks after the initial preliminary interview at the Tribunal office (it must be transcribed). If a narrative is completed and submitted, this happens as soon as the narrative is accepted by the Judicial Vicar. You must complete a-h above for the narrative to be accepted.
C) Prior to the formal hearing you, the petitioner, must complete and return the witness list (which we send you). Witnesses include 2-3 adult people who knew you prior to and/or 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 (one at a time) and information obtained in the interview will not be shared with anyone except the members of the Court.
D) If (when) the petition comes to formal hearing the following will occur:
1) All testimony is gathered and sent to the Court Members. (this must be transcribed and could take up to 4 weeks)
2) Advocate and the Defender of the Bond present their briefs to the Judge. (they have 30 days to complete this process)
3) Judge(s) renders a decision. (they have 30 days to complete this process)
4) Both the petitioner and the respondent have the right to appeal the decision of the Court of First Instance. (you have 3 weeks to review the decision or appeal the decision)
5) Judge’s decision is sent to Appeal Court, the Court of Second Instance (only if appealed by the petitioner or the respondent).
6) When the decision is returned from the Appeal’s Court, (the Court of Second Instance), the petitioner and the respondent will be notified of the decision. Or, the decision can stay in-house (if not appealed) and the parties will be notified of the decision.
7) A vetitum (prohibition) may be attached to the decision, requiring that either or both spouses must attend professional counseling with a counselor approved by the Tribunal before being allowed to marry in the Catholic Church.
The average length for the Tribunal to process a formal petition is 12 months (this is the NEW norm). If the petition is appealed, the process can take 18-20 months. No wedding date can be set until an affirmative decision has been rendered. The Court could require that you participate in an evaluation or counseling with your intended spouse. This requirement is made so that your future marriage may be happy and fulfilling.
As of July 1, 2016, the Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud will no longer be charging a set fee for annulments. If you wish to make a donation to help defray the cost(s) of the work of the Tribunal, it would be greatly appreciated. Please make checks payable to: Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Or, you may go to: pay online at www.stcdio.org/pay to make a online donation, under “Tribunal-Annulments”. We thank you for your kind donation.
If you have additional questions about annulment procedures, or wish to speak with the Judicial Vicar, Fr. Virgil Helmin, please contact the Saint Cloud Diocese Office of The Tribunal: (320) 251-6557 or Fr. Virgil Helmin directly at: (320) 258-7607.