Christ the Lord made Marriage a sacrament (Matthew 19) – a visible sign, given to us by Christ Himself, in order to share His life with the world. Marriage is a “public institution” in that vows are made publicly – the presumption is that a man and a woman “mean what they say/say what they mean” when they make those vows! Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’… and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’
“Divorce” is simply a decision by two people not to live together or share the same property anymore – and this may take place for entirely understandable reasons… however, marriage VOWS still hold! Divorce per se does not affect one’s status in the life of the Church (i.e. receiving Holy Communion). What affects a Catholic’s status within the life of the Church would be a decision to divorce and to “re-marry” outside the Church. Again, in the interests of justice and integrity… the Church assumes that one meant their marriage vows when pronounced.
The “annulment” process is an exercise of the pastoral office of the Church to determine if there was something lacking in the consent of a man/woman in making the marriage vows. After an extensive investigation, the Church may declare a marriage to have been “null and void” from the beginning. An annulment does not “dissolve” a marriage… it declares that one never took place from the beginning! This DOES NOT affect the “legitimacy” of children born within a marriage… it looks at the state of a man/woman in making the vows of marriage. Consequently, the annulment investigation focuses on the time of courtship up to the time of the wedding… NOT on the causes of separation/divorce.
Hopefully the annulment process is something no married couple ever has to go through, but it is there out of necessity and concern for the spiritual well-being of Catholics. This is carried out through the Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese of Phoenix. To begin the annulment process, please contact Susan Pietro and she will be happy to help you.
Susan Pietro, firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-242-1300 xt.121
I’d like to begin the process, what will I need?
You will need the following items to begin:
A recently-issued copy of your baptismal certificate (within last 6 months) any record will do for non-Catholic. This is a very easy and routine matter… phone the parish where you were baptized and request that it be sent to you. The parish office has what is called “The Kennedy Directory”: names, address, phone of every parish in the country, and contacts for overseas, Mexico, Canada, etc. If you have relatives in the homeland near the parish, they can retrieve the certificate for you and send it over.
Original or copy of your church marriage certificate (Catholic only).
Original or certified copy of yourcivil marriage license. Cannot be a photocopy.
Original or certified copy of your FINAL divorce decree, cannot be a photocopy.
Names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, religion, relation to you of 3-5 people who are willing to act as witnesses (can be aunt, uncle, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, counselors, doctors) in your annulment case. These individuals must have known you and your former spouse during courtship, at time of marriage, and/or shortly thereafter.
A brief summary explaining courtship, preparation for marriage, any unusual factors which may have affected your decision to marry. Also give brief summary of the circumstances leading up to dissolution of marriage.
Your former spouse’s whereabouts ([maiden] name, mailing address, current phone number (if possible), place of birth, where baptized, religious status). Note: It is only fair and just that the other party be notified of the annulment proceedings, and often, their response may help the case. However, please make any fears or concerns you may have known to the Tribunal… particularly if you have security worries (e.g. domestic violence situations, etc.).
$100 filing fee… check made out to “Diocese of Phoenix”… To process a formal annulment case costs the Diocese about $1100 (derived from clerical costs, personnel, phone, paper, postage, etc.). The Diocese asks each petitioner to remit $500 to cover some of those costs. PLEASE NOTE HOWEVER: Inability to provide this remit this will NOT AT ALL impede your case being processed. PLEASE NOTE: DURING THIS YEAR OF MERCY, THERE ARE NO FEES REQUIRE FOR THE ANNULMENT PROCESS IN THE DIOCESE OF PHOENIX.
How long does the process take?
Upon completion of your questionnaire, it’s important to make sure your witnesses submit their questionnaires as absolutely soon as possible! The sooner testimony is collected, the sooner it is reviewed and a decision is rendered. Generally speaking, plan on at least 9 months.
Suppose someone’s not a Catholic… they were married to another non-Catholic? Why would they have to complete a process in the Catholic Church of all things?
Marriage isn’t just a “Catholic” thing! Two people – two baptized Christians, even two non-Christians – said vows before the world: “I take you… for life.” Those vows mean something… we have to presume that they meant those words when they said them, unless there may be some circumstance that impeded their freedom to utter those words and mean them… that’s what the annulment process determines. So even if the process involves two non-Catholics, the Church is still authorized by her Lord to “bind and loose,” if only for the sake a Catholic party involved in the particular case (e.g. a Catholic who is married civilly to a non-Catholic who was married previously, and that Catholic wants the marriage blessed in the Church).
Marriage Annulment contact:
602-242-1300 ext. 121