Message from Fr. Peter:
Dear Petitioner and others who are studying this procedure,
On behalf of the Salina Diocese, thank you for your consideration of the information in this portion of the website.
In the midst of the experiences and emotions that have led to this point, you are taking an important step by considering how this procedure works and if it is something that you wish to pursue. If you are Catholic or are interested in marrying a Catholic, you have vested interest in your canonical status. Civilly, it’s clear what your marriage status is. Canonically, it takes a specific kind of process to arrive at that answer. You are seeking that clarity, and we are here to understand the facts of your case and to honor the rights of those concerned by walking with you through this procedure.
God is working in your life, and we are honored to assist you in attaining the goals you have set for yourself regarding this important matter, namely regarding the canonical status of your marriage and your relationship to the sacramental life of the Catholic Church.
– Fr. Peter O’Donnell, Judicial Vicar
What a Declaration of Nullity means
A declaration of nullity is a declaration by the Church (generated in written form at the conclusion of the nullity case process) that a marriage was not valid from the beginning. The decision is either Affirmative (invalid from beginning) or Negative (not invalid from the beginning) – and the parties have the right to appeal the decision if they so choose.
A declaration of nullity does not deny that there was a wedding ceremony, nor does it dispute that a relationship existed. An affirmative decision does not mean that the parties are free of the continuing obligations of the union such as the welfare of children. Rather, in most cases, a declaration of nullity communicates that at the time the couple attempted to exchange wedding vows, an essential element was lacking in the consent of at least one of them, and thus the union which followed such consent was not constituted as a valid marriage according to the Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage.
Paperwork needed to submit a formal Nullity case to the Tribunal
We invite you to read through the attached documents: the checklist, the main form, and many questions that can be useful in formulating the narrative portion of the case. We recommend that you work with your local pastor, associate pastor, or deacon so that one of them can assist you at this important stage. The questions for the narrative are not meant to overwhelm you, but to simply provide some assistance in describing the facts and circumstances of your experiences with your ex-spouse.
In the event that your case qualifies for a process other than the formal process, you would not need to write a narrative. By visiting with your local pastor, associate pastor, deacon, or a member of the Tribunal office staff, you will be able to know exactly what we need to begin the process, and it will become clear if there are any exceptions or further directions based on the facts.