How long is the Annulment process?


#1

When an annulment has been submitted, the former spouse has been contacted, and the witnesses have turned in their accounts, is this nearing the end of the process? And how long does it take from that point to make a decision?
twright


#2

It's very variant. I was told three to six months, but actually took longer. Had no updates until the official letter came in the mail.


#3

Was the 3 to six months time frame after all the witness statements were submitted? And is that near the end of the process?
Thanks so much for your help.


#4

There is no answer to this question. Each case is individual and timelines depend upon many factors including how many other cases are currently before the tribunal.


#5

Each case is individual. When I applied for my annulment (10 years ago), I was told it takes approximately 1 year, and that's what it turned out to be. It also depends on the Diocese you're in as well. Mine was in the Diocese of Jefferson City (MO).


#6

My "wife" is currently seeking an annulment from her previous marriage. She submitted all the paperwork and the witnesses were contacted about two months ago. She was told it might take up to a year. She had four witnesses and probably only two will cooperate. She doesn't think her "ex-husband" will cooperate. Pray about it. I said one for you just now.


#7

[quote="twright, post:1, topic:222937"]
When an annulment has been submitted, the former spouse has been contacted, and the witnesses have turned in their accounts, is this nearing the end of the process?

[/quote]

No, this is just the beginning of the process. Now they can start to look at the material and begin to make an assessment.

And how long does it take from that point to make a decision?

As long as it takes them to read through and listen to all of the material you have given to them, go over all of it carefully to ensure that they haven't missed anything important, and deliberate among themselves to answer all of the necessary questions.

Variables will include things like how many other cases are ahead of yours, and any complicating factors that require them to go back to the witnesses and get more information.

Some cases are solved quickly, and others are more complicated. Your mileage will definitely vary. I heard of one case that only took a week. I know of another case that was started three years ago and still has not been resolved. Most cases are somewhere in between there.


#8

[quote="Lampo, post:6, topic:222937"]
My "wife" is currently seeking an annulment from her previous marriage. She submitted all the paperwork and the witnesses were contacted about two months ago. She was told it might take up to a year. She had four witnesses and probably only two will cooperate. She doesn't think her "ex-husband" will cooperate. Pray about it. I said one for you just now.

[/quote]

My ex-husband didn't cooperate AT ALL. After giving him multiple chances to respond, the Tribunal proceeded without any input from him. It may take a bit longer this way, but the petition can still go forward.


#9

I was told it would probaly take about a year, and it was filed last Febuary (2010). The witnesses were not contacted until November (2010). The whole 9 months it has been in does not count at all? I was thinking around Febuary of next year (2011 which woudl make 1 year)they would have a decision......Why is this so complicated? This case is a pretty cut and dry case, also very short marriage, doesn't that make a difference?

Thanks so much for the prayers!! They are much needed.


#10

[quote="twright, post:9, topic:222937"]
I was told it would probaly take about a year, and it was filed last Febuary (2010). The witnesses were not contacted until November (2010). The whole 9 months it has been in does not count at all?

[/quote]

Ask your advocate what timelines are like in your diocese.

[quote="twright, post:9, topic:222937"]
I was thinking around Febuary of next year (2011 which woudl make 1 year)they would have a decision......

[/quote]

Try not to have expectations.

[quote="twright, post:9, topic:222937"]
Why is this so complicated?

[/quote]

Complicated and time consuming are not necessarily the same thing. Tribunals handle many cases each year. They give each one the time and attention it needs for a thorough investigation and proper decision to be made.

Why are you in a hurry?

[quote="twright, post:9, topic:222937"]
This case is a pretty cut and dry case, also very short marriage, doesn't that make a difference?

[/quote]

"Cut and dried" in your eyes? That may not be true from the tribunal's point of view. And, no, the fact that it was a short marriage has no bearing on whether or not it was a valid marriage.


#11

[quote="twright, post:1, topic:222937"]
When an annulment has been submitted, the former spouse has been contacted, and the witnesses have turned in their accounts, is this nearing the end of the process? And how long does it take from that point to make a decision?
twright

[/quote]

I assist people with annulment preparations (from a parish level). To answer your question, yes, you are nearing the end of the process. Assuming that all the other paperwork has been submitted and there is no issue with it (i.e., recently issued baptism certificates and a copy of a finalized divorce decree) then the only major thing left is for the tribunal to review all the material and make a ruling. If your diocese is part of a larger province (and is not the seat of the province) then this may also necessitate the provincial tribunal ratifying the conclusion made by the local tribunal.

Exactly how long this will take (from this point on) with your particular case depends on the pre-existing backlog of other cases that also need to be reviewed by the tribunal(s) in your area. But take comfort in knowing that you are at the end of the whole process.

Why is this so complicated? This case is a pretty cut and dry case, also very short marriage, doesn't that make a difference?

It is complicated because it is probably not a cut & dry case, at least not from a tribunal's perspective. A time frame of a marriage has no direct bearing upon its validity. A marriage is either valid at the moment the vows are expressed at the wedding, or it is not. A marriage that falls apart in two hours can still be valid. On the other hand, an invalid marriage can last for 70 years and this would not validate it. But the short time frame of a marriage can still have a bearing, somewhat, which I will address in a moment.

From the tribunal's perspective, a cut & dry case would involve a Catholic marrying outside the Church (i.e., a "Lack of Form" annulment), or getting married to someone who has had a previous marriage (which was never annulled) and the former spouse is still alive (i.e., a "Prior Bond" annulment). There are other variations of a Prior Bond issue, such as a former priest or nun getting married but without first being dispensed from the Vow of Celibacy by an appropriate Church authority. Those kinds of annulments take less time because it can objectively be observed that the marriage was invalid from a sacramental viewpoint.

Here, "objective" means that the relevant facts are readily apparent. For example, it is easy to demonstrate whether or not a Catholic was married outside the Church (and without his bishop's permission). It is easy to demonstrate whether or not a person had a former marriage, and so forth.

Other annulments have to be examined "subjectively". In other words, did a person actually intend to pursue a marriage according to the concepts of fidelity, permanence, openness to children, etc. when he or she spoke the vows during the wedding? Did a person conceal important facts about himself or herself that the spouse had a right to know before consenting to be married? Those (and others) are the sorts of subjective things that the tribunal has to hash out. They are "subjective" in the sense that they involve matters of the heart & mind, and are not readily observable. This is why the tribunal flat out asks people these questions, and examines reports (from others) of the couples statements and behavior to determine how credible the couple's answers are.

Along these lines, the fact that a marriage was short can still be relevant, somewhat, in the investigation, because this fact points to an early problem (or problems) in the marriage, and possibly indicates a mindset of the bride and/or the groom before the vows were even made. So whereas a short time frame for a marriage does not invalidate the marriage, it can help make a case for the presence of other issues which have more bearing.

Finally, it is important to appreciate the pressure and responsibility members of a tribunal feel in dealing with these situations. They want to be very careful before officially delivering a statement of nullity, because when preaching about the topic of divorce, Jesus warned "What God has joined, let no man separate."


#12

EricFilmer,
I have a question for you. I was married by a baptist pastor only 3 months after my 18th birthday after my devout baptist family found out that I was 2 months pregnant. He was emotionally abusive from the beginning and we have since been married 7.5 yrs and have 2 children ages 6 and 1.5 years. He has left me several times to be with other women and has cheated on me more than once. While we have been split up I can't say I was totally good myself as I had other sexual relations as well, however I have always tried to reconcile with him in order to keep our family together. I was born and raise baptist as was he and I am currently looking to convert to the Catholic Church.

One of my concerns is that he will leave me again and I feel I am hurting my children by continuing to go back to him again and again. If he leaves again and tells me he wants a divorce I am not sure if I should go ahead and agree to it and seek an annullment.

He has made it clear that he does not want our children to be raised anything other than Baptist until they are old enough to make that decision themselves. Also, he has forbade me from baptising them. (This also bothers me a lot.)

If I continue to work on our marriage and we are still trying once I have joined the church I would like to have our marriage validated however I am almost positive that he will not agree to it. Will this stop me from being about to take communion?

Sorry there are so many questions but I have been unable to get these anwsers from anywhere else.


#13

[quote="w0231136, post:12, topic:222937"]
If I continue to work on our marriage and we are still trying once I have joined the church I would like to have our marriage validated however I am almost positive that he will not agree to it. Will this stop me from being about to take communion?

[/quote]

If both of you were Protestant at the time of the wedding, and neither of you had ever been previously married, you don't have to have your marriage validated - it is already considered valid by the Church, so it will not affect your ability to receive Holy Communion. However, if either of you were Catholic before, or if either of you were ever previously married, you need to mention this to your RCIA team so that they can help you take the proper steps to be able to join the Church, since if you are currently in an invalid marriage, you cannot become a Catholic.


#14

The religion teacher (not sure what she is called) that teaches RICA told me it would have to be validated or blessed and she wasn't sure what would happen if my husband would not do that.


#15

[quote="w0231136, post:14, topic:222937"]
The religion teacher (not sure what she is called) that teaches RICA told me it would have to be validated or blessed and she wasn't sure what would happen if my husband would not do that.

[/quote]

Did she mention the reason for this? :confused:

If both of you were Protestant at the time of the wedding (that is, neither of you had ever been Catholics at any time before that), and it was the first marriage for both of you, there shouldn't be any issues.

If this is so, mention it to the priest. It may be a custom in that parish that new Catholics get their marriages blessed, but if it will cause discord at home, then there would be very little point, unless there is something wrong with the marriage itself (in which case you would need to go through the Tribunal process before becoming Catholic).


#16

[quote="w0231136, post:12, topic:222937"]
EricFilmer,
I have a question for you...

[/quote]

The input jmcrae has given you in this regard is quite correct. Information concerning marriage and annulments can get very complicated, and I am not surprised if RCIA instructors here and there get things mixed up a bit.

If two Protestants get married (and neither were previously Catholic or members of an Orthodox Christian Church), and neither had been married before, then, as jmcrae pointed out, the Catholic Church assumes the marriage to be valid. You don't have to worry about getting your marriage "validated" in the Catholic Church unless there is something else that raises a concern. Actually, the precise term is "convalidated" which means "with validity" (the old Catholic expression for this was "having a marriage blessed in the Church"). But a convalidation is not supposed to happen unless there is a serious reason to doubt that a marriage was valid to begin with.

In this case, a serious reason would be something objective in nature. Based on what you stated in your post, I can envision some subjective reasons why your marriage might not be sacramentally valid (for example, a pregnant teenager whose family pressures her to get married may not display sufficient consent to enter into a valid marriage). But such subjective things are usually not an issue in terms of an RCIA process. So unless there is a clear, objective reason to doubt the validity of your marriage (such as a prior marriage or having once been Catholic/Orthodox) then there should be no impediment for you to receive the Eucharist and become fully initiated into the Catholic Church.

Your pastor should be able to clear all this up.


#17

[quote="jmcrae, post:7, topic:222937"]
Some cases are solved quickly, and others are more complicated. Your mileage will definitely vary. I heard of one case that only took a week. I know of another case that was started three years ago and still has not been resolved. Most cases are somewhere in between there.

[/quote]

True, one guy in our parish got his decree so fast that the woman who did the interviews was stunned, she'd never known one granted so rapidly.

OTOH, my friend had his interview in July. He received the notification that the local tribunal had granted the decree near the end of November but he's now awaiting the decision of the court of second instance. In Canada that's the National Tribunal where all cases end up.

If it took 4 months for a decision from a Tribunal dealing with probably fewer than 100 petitions (basing that on the fact that we only have 26 parishes and the 4 I deal with have only 2 cases wending their way through), imagine how long it's going to take to get a decision from a Tribunal reviewing the decisions from ~70 dioceses.


#18

We both were never married before and although I was baptised in the baptist church he wasn't until about 2 yrs ago. So if I am understand you correctly I may not need to have the marraige convalidated.


#19

[quote="w0231136, post:18, topic:222937"]
We both were never married before and although I was baptised in the baptist church he wasn't until about 2 yrs ago. So if I am understand you correctly I may not need to have the marraige convalidated.

[/quote]

Given the information above, convalidation would not be necessary; your marriage is presumed valid by the Catholic Church.


closed #20

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