The following is a brief description of the five types of cases most often handled by the Diocese of Superior Marriage Tribunal. Note: If you have more than one previous marriage, each must be addressed individually.
|Parties Contracting Marriage||Place of Marriage||Process Needed|
|Catholic + Baptized||Catholic Church||Formal process|
|Catholic + Baptized||anywhere w/ dispensation from bishop||Formal process|
|Catholic + Baptized||anywhere w/o dispensation from bishop||Lack of form|
|Catholic + Unbaptized||Catholic Church||Formal process|
|Catholic + Unbaptized||anywhere w/ dispensation from bishop||Formal process|
|Catholic + Unbaptized||anywhere w/o dispensation from bishop||Lack of form|
|Baptized + Baptized||anywhere||Formal process|
|Baptized + Unbaptized||anywhere||Formal process|
|Unbaptized + Unbaptized||anywhere||Formal process|
Defective consent involves the intentions and capacities of each of the parties to a marriage at the time of the exchange of vows. A bride or groom who had defective consent on the day of the marriage ceremony would not have possessed the minimum level of abilities or intentions for a sacramental union.
Before an annulment decision is made a thorough investigation (formal process) of the circumstances and events surrounding a marriage ceremony must be completed. Both parties (the petitioner and respondent) must be asked to give testimony. Knowledgeable witnesses also need to be contacted for extensive testimony. A specially trained judge must then carefully examine all of the testimony, and with moral certainty decide a case. The presumption of the Church is that a marriage of two baptized persons is a valid sacramental union until the contrary is proven. Due to this presumption, the tribunal must obtain serious evidence of a grave defect in the consent of one of the parties to a marriage before a declaration of nullity can be given.
Annulments are given in other less commplicated cases where it is not necessary to go to trial.
This type of anulment is used when there was a wedding which took place "outside" the Catholic church as required by canon law. If a couple does not exchange vows before a priest and two witnesses in a Catholic church this makes the marriage invalid. These "lack of form" cases are the most common type of annulments granted by the Diocese. The Tribunal must be able to establish the following facts in order to grant the anulment:
This type of anulment is used when it is discovered that one of the parties was validly married to someone else before he/she remarried, but lied to his spouse. This type of marriage is nullified on the grounds of ligamen, which is Latin for "
This type of process applies when both parties were unbaptized at the time of the marriage, and then after the marriage one of the parties is baptized. If the unbaptized person does not accept or cannot live with the fact that his spouse has been baptized, and hence divorces. When the baptized person requests to be married to another baptized person, the first marriage can be dissolved.
If one party was baptized and the other unbaptized at the time of the marriage, the marriage is still natural but can be dissolved only by the Pope personally, exercising his authority as the Vicar of Christ and executive agent of divine law.