Marriage Tribunal

Annulments

Please contact the Chancellor of the Archeparchy for information or to make obtain an Application for an Annulment or for assistance with your Application: (204-338-7801 ext.6)

In Canada, applications for Annulments are processed by a Church Court called "the Inter-eparchial Tribunal". Given the small size of our Church in Canada, it is not practical for each eparchy of the Metropolia to have it's own tribunal. Instead our tribunal is made up of personnel from the various eparchies all across the Metropolia.

Applications can be made to the offices of the Tribunal:

The Inter-Eparchial Tribunal 449 Broad St. N. Regina, SK S4R 2X8

The person applying for the Annulment is called the "Petitioner" and the person with whom they were married is called the "Respondent". The Respondent is free to either participate or not participate in the Annulment application process. If the Church Court (the Tribunal) is able to issue an Annulment for the Petition, the Respondent also benefits by receiving the Annulment and freedom to marry - regardless of whether they participated or not.

What is an Annulment?

An Annulment (officially known as a "Declaration of Nullity") is a judgment that that original contracting of the marriage was invalid.

A Declaration of Nullity does not affect the legal or church status of the children of the family in any way.

There are various grounds (reasons) upon which a Church Court (the Tribunal) will make a finding of invalidity. Examples may be that: the person contracted marriage through some kind of force or fear - consequently they did not give free consent to entering the marriage; the person did not know or assent to what they were ostensibly agreeing to (e.g. a permanent union "for better or for worse" no matter what).

An Annulment is not a divorce. A divorce is the secular state's dissolution of a civil union. The state says firstly there was a perfectly valid marriage and now they are breaking it apart.

Unlike the secular state, the Church recognizes that holy matrimony is an eternal union of the husband and wife in God.

Does Everyone Who Applies Receive an Annulment?

No, Annulments are not automatically given in every case where spouses divorce. There may be cases were the Tribunal is unable to find that a marriage was invalidly contracted.

An annulment is very different from a divorce.

The government will issue a divorce is almost automatically upon application - given the fulfillment of certain basic conditions such as 1 year's separation.

An Annulment, on the other hand, is not automatically given when a couple permanently separates. An Annulment does not dissolve a prior marriage. An Annulment is a finding by the Church court (tribunal) that the original contracting of the marriage lacked validity in the first place. If the Court is unable to find evidence that the original contracting of the marriage lacked validity, then the Court would be unable to issue a Annulment.

How does the Annulment Process Work?

The tribunal process is all done by the filing of testimonial documents - what is colloquially referred to as a "paper trial". The various parties do not meet. There is never any open court where the parties must face each other or confront each other.

The applicant (called the "Petitioner") fills out an Application and sends it to the Tribunal.

The Application will ask for such information: background and contact information for the Petition and the Respondent; evidence and history testifying that the original marriage was invalid; 3 witnesses who can support the evidence that the original marriage was invalid.

There is an administrative fee. The fee is only a fraction of the real cost of processing the application. Obviously because it is an fee for processing the application, there is no refund if the Tribunal cannot find in favour of the petition.

Subsequently, the Petitioner is interviewed to see if there are any conditions prior to the marriage that would have rendered the contracting of the marriage invalid. This evidence is taken down.

The witnesses are also interviewed in order to garner evidence that may support the Applicant's reasons why the marriage should not have taken place. This evidence is likewise recorded.

The Respondent may wish to participate but is also free to have nothing to do with the application. If the Respondent wishes to participate, they would have the opportunity to be interviewed and give their evidence as to whether the marriage was validly contracted or not. They would also have an opportunity to provide 3 witnesses to give evidence to support their testimony.

When all the evidence is gathered, then the judges of the Tribunal will make a judgment (based on the evidence) whether or not the marriage was validly or invalidly contracted. If the marriage was invalid, the Tribunal will issue a Declaration of Nullity (i.e. grant an Annulment).

Annulments must be processed by 2 levels of Church courts. After a judgment is rendered by the Tribunal, the judgment is reviewed by an Appeal Court of the Church. Then a final judgment is rendered.

The Inter-Eparchial Tribunal

The Inter-eparchial Tribunal's judges and a staff offer assistance to those who request that the Church study a marriage in order to determine whether or not there is any possibility of a declaration of invalidity. The Tribunal then investigates the marriage, and on completion of their investigation, declares whether or not invalidity has been proved.

The Inter-Eparchial Tribunal is the Church's court of law. The law it adjudicates is the nomocanon law of the Church, which has as its foundation and its heart the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. The fundamental law of the Church is the commandment of Jesus to love God above all else and to love one another as ourselves. The procedural laws which govern Tribunals, exist primarily to protect the rights of all persons connected with a Tribunal case by providing a structured process of examining the issues and questions surrounding marriages and their validity.