Marriage is a covenant that a man and a woman establish between themselves as a partnership of the whole of life that is directed toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.
What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Divorce is a formal and legal dissolution of marriage under civil law. In essence it means that the bond that was formed no longer exists. The annulment process is a Church proceeding which examines the bond that was formed under canon law. If the Church annulment is granted, it means that one of the essential elements for a binding marriage was not present at the time of consent (marriage).
What are essential elements?
Marriage is the living out of sacrificial love. As Christ gave himself for the Church, husbands and wives are called to give themselves totally to each other. Husbands and wives must not only have a clear understanding of the obligations of marriage and be willing to fulfill those obligations, but must also be capable of fulfilling those obligations. They must each be of sound mind and freely make their commitment.
Will my children be considered illegitimate?
No, legitimacy does not apply in the case of Church annulments. Children are a gift from God, created in His image and likeness. They are entitled to love and support from their parents as well as from their faith community.
Is there a charge for annulments?
No, neither party is asked to contribute to the cost of processing annulments. However, once a case is complete, donations may be made to the Archdiocese.
How long do annulments take?
Formal cases average twelve months to process. Formal cases processed in the “Briefer Matrimonial Process” may be completed within months after the determination has been made that the case qualifies for this process. Documentary cases can be processed within weeks. The determining factor for all types of cases is the receipt, by the Tribunal, of the necessary documentation and supporting evidence.
What is the difference between a formal and a documentary case?
A case is processed as a formal case when:
1) one or both parties are Catholic and are married in the Catholic Church, or
2) both parties are non-Catholic and are married outside the Church, and neither party has a prior marriage that was not declared null.
A case is processed as a documentary case when:
1) one or both of the spouses are Catholic at the time of the marriage and the marriage was outside the Catholic Church, or
2) in the case of two non-Catholics, the ex-spouse was married prior to their marriage to the Petitioner.
What is the Briefer Matrimonial Process and does my case qualify for this process?
In order for a case to be processed by the briefer method a case must meet certain conditions. Work with your advocate to prepare your petition and documentation, submitting as much information as possible. After receiving all the necessary documentation, you will be notified if the Judicial Vicar and Archbishop determine that your case meets these conditions and will be processed in this manner.
As a divorced and remarried Catholic, may I receive Communion?
No. Receiving Communion is a public statement that one accepts all of the teachings of the Catholic Church, including marriage according to Church laws.
If I am divorced, but not remarried, may I receive Communion?
Yes. A divorced Catholic, in the state of grace, who has not remarried outside the Church and is not living with someone as if married, is in full communion with the Church and may receive Communion.
Will my being divorced and remarried outside the Church affect my ability to get an annulment of my prior marriage?
No. The annulment process examines the prior marriage in light of Church teaching. It does not examine the current status of either party.
Must my prior spouse be contacted?
Church law, out of fairness, requires that the ex-spouse be contacted, unless there are overriding circumstances.
What happens if the address of my former spouse is unknown?
If the whereabouts are unknown, the efforts made to locate the respondent must be documented.
What if my former spouse refuses to participate?
If the former spouse refuses to participate, your case will continue to be processed.
What documents are required?
The marriage certificate and divorce decree of the marriage in question are needed. If you are Catholic, your baptismal certificate, with notations, issued within the last six months, is also needed.
How do I start the process?
Contact your pastor. Many priests prefer to do their own annulments or they may refer you to a lay advocate.
If you have any questions, as the case is processed, please consult your Advocate first. Extraordinary questions may be addressed to the Tribunal Office. We are dedicated to serving you. Please be assured of our sincere desire to help. We will keep you and your family in our prayers.
May God Bless You
The Tribunal Staff
Archdiocese of Kansas City in KS
12615 Parallel Parkway
Kansas City, KS 66109