Annulment & marriage discernment


I came into the Catholic Church last year at the Easter Vigil and I am working through a case with the Tribunal seeking an annulment for a previous marriage. I feel like I am being called to be married, but I know it isn’t even an option until the Tribunal case reaches a decision.

I pray every day that the case progresses and that I will have a decision soon, but the case has been moving very slowly. (Only after I filed the papers with the local parish, did I learn that the Diocese I now live in, is known for having very lengthy Tribunal processes, 18-24 months. I also was not advised that I could have filed with the Diocese that I was married in, which I later found out through my sister’s father-in-law, their typical decision time is around 8-10 months.)
I am trying not to be bitter or impatient, I realize how serious the Tribunal is about seeking the truth, but I was advised in January that I should have a decision in April. Just last week I received a letter that they are offering me an ecclesiastical advocate to review my case before it goes to the decision stage. They could not give me any ‘advice’ at the tribunal office on what the status of the case was because they need to remain impartial to the case.

Does anyone have any advice or experience with this type of situation? Is it likely that the case is not strong enough if they are advising me to have an advocate review the case now, at the decision stage?



This process is known to take time. Some dioceses do act more quickly than others but it is never quick, nor should it be. The tribunal is being called on to make a profound determination.

My advice would be to pray for patience. When it is time, you will receive the answer. And perhaps it will be of some encouragement to know that you are better off than some. There was a woman in my original RCIA inquiry group who could not proceed even to the Rite of Acceptance, much less confirmation at Easter Vigil, until she had resolved her previous marriage with an out of state Tribunal. She is still waiting. Yes, she will catch up some time, but right now, she has to wait.


The process is actually sometimes faster than civil courts go about divorce, though not as a rule. Church tribunals don’t strike me as laggy (contrary to civil courts, which do) as much as scrupulous and solid. After all, you want to be married for real, so you don’t want a mistaken decree of nullity, nor do you want the Tribunal to wave away potential threads without due examination.

As for the advocate, it’s the same as in civil courts if you get one. It may mean that your case is complicated, but it doesn’t mean that it’s lost for you. Appointing the advocate should make the process faster.


Here is a bit of encouragement. I am also going through the annulment process, and was informed by a friend of a recent article regarding annulments:

– In expressing his concern for the number of Catholics unable to receive Communion because of irregular marital situations, Pope Benedict confirmed church teaching that those who have been divorced and civilly remarried without having obtained an annulment are not to receive Communion.

However, the pope encouraged bishops to ensure they have fully trained and staffed marriage tribunals to deal with annulment requests “in an expeditious manner.”

For full article:

I hope your diocese got the message, as I hope mine did as well.

BTW, pray for our new bishop, Kevin Farrell. He will be installed today!


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