Lack of Witnesses in the Annulment Process


Long story short, I am 51, Protestant, engaged to a wonderful Catholic, enrolled in RCIA and only a short time involved the annulment process. In filing the paperwork to annul my marriage from 32 years ago, it is required to list at least three witnesses that can attest to my state of mind when I married, before and/or during the marriage. This marriage only lasted 4 years, as it was more of an “arranged” marriage. (My mother discovered that this man was living in my apartment and demanded that I marry him, rather than “live in sin”.) My mother is still alive and willing to be a witness for me, but I am at a loss to find two more people that can attest and would be willing to talk to a Catholic Tribunal. Has anyone obtained an annulment with less than the three required witnesses? Am I going through all of the life changing experiences only to find that I will not be able to marry in the Catholic Church? Any input will be greatly appreciated!


Talk to your advocate about this. It’s best to get advice directly from your local diocesan tribunal.


Thanks - just looking for experiences from others. My advocate has just finished his class in Annulments and I will be his first to actually process. Could be a good thing if the Tribunal assists him because he is new. On the other hand, he lacks experience in being able to know how the Tribunal might respond.

Thanks, though.



If at any time you think you need someone more experienced, don’t hesistate to ask. Yours may be a more complex case because it was so long ago. However, coersion certainly seems clear-cut grounds.

If you haven’t asked friends from that time period, try them-- don’t be embarrassed and you’ll be surprised how many people will want to help you. You can probably even find people you are no longer in contact with through websites like


Hi Sharon,

I do not believe you’re actually required to have any witnesses at all, but it’s probably “preferred”. My diocese says that good witnesses are parents, siblings, close friends who knew you before the wedding, or members of the wedding party (your attendants, etc).

I had 4 witnesses. My ex, who was the respondent in the petition (I filed the petition) only had one.

Talk to your advocate or pastor. Don’t stress, you’ll be OK.


I concur. I went through the annulment process about ten years ago. Witnesses are good to have, but not mandatory. I know that it is sometimes difficult to find witnesses after a long passage of time, but friends and relatives can help and can have surprisingly good memories. Don’t stress though, the Tribunal are not Inquisitors and your grounds seem good. Good luck and God bless you and welcome.


My ex didn’t cooperate at all. You’ve gotten good advice here. Your mother is a good witness, and if you can track down your old roommates or any siblings (even his relatives. Hostile witnesses can also be very very useful.) Your advocate helps put together your case. But the tribunal makes the decision. I would advise you to leave nothing out in the questionnaire. Answer thoroughly. The long answer, not the short. My application was 123 single spaced pages of answers. (Yeah, those of you who have read my posts can see this is entirely possible.) :rolleyes:

But YOU are the one who gives your testimony. Leave nothing out. The more information you give, the better-judged their decision will be.

Oh, and they may not be required to “talk” to a tribunal. Time and distance has made many tribunals use written replies as the testimony. Most people have no problem answering written questions and sending them in.


I had one witness, the best man of my first “marriage” and it went through. That’s my experience – but I need to be clear that my witness was stating that my ex was not religious - not stating my “frame of mind.”

Oh and this was a written “affidavit” not in need to be notarized or formally submitted, etc. Just mailed back to my diocese.

My mother’s first husband tracked ME down through Classmates (even though I was born ten+ years after that particular marriage.) and I gave him/his diocese info to contact her. She was being spiteful in not filling out the paperwork, but then she is the sheriff of crazy-town. I am considering tracking him down and witnessing for her. I want this man to take communion. :thumbsup:


Just curious - were you Catholic at the time and he was of no religion?

Being a Protestant and only subjected to Catholicism for the last 11 months, I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount, but that I have only scraped the surface of becoming a Catholic! I have read about the Pauline and Petrine Privileges and would qualify under the Petrine Privilege, but it seems that it is not granted often - ie: the full annulment is easier to obtain.

I guess I am asking, “Have I missed something here?” With me being baptized and him not - is this grounds for a simpler annulment process that I am not aware of?


Great question and I went through it. I was nearly subjected to a Pauline BUT the priest and the Diocese decided that the annulment was SIMPLER and would take less time.

I was raised Catholic – BUT denied the sacraments due to my atheist father. Meaning I had the spiritual upbringing for the majority, yet I had not received the sacraments until after the first marriage was over and I was ready to fully participate in my own faith, read: my choice – in adulthood. I was not baptized nor practicing any faith when I first married. That marriage lasted about the length of a sneeze.

So although you were baptized, the fact that he wasn’t helps your case immensely, and if you have a witness who can say he wasn’t baptized, and not a practicing Christian in a RECOGNIZED Christian religion (meaning no LDS or JW’s) you should have your annulment granted easily enough. Each tribunal can be different in their demands of passing an annulment through. Even the cost of the annulment can vary from diocese to diocese.


Hi KC,

I’m sure you intended to state this differently but, just for any lurkers out there, I wanted to say…there’s no “cost for an annulment”. There’s the fee you pay the diocese to process and investigate your petition for nullity…whether the annulment is granted or not. :slight_smile: Just keepin’ it clean! :thumbsup:


And that cost in some dioceses really doesn’t cover the real cost. Some only charge a few hundred dollars. And they have payment plans, or they can waive the fee or part of it if circumstances warrant it. My family happily pitched in to pay it for me.

Don’t let money keep you from this.


Uhm OK! :thumbsup:


Hi, I have just begun the annulment process thru my Church. I was married at 18, and it was a horrible, dreadful, harmful relationship.
Now, 22 years later, I think I have found what I have looked for my whole life. I am having a hard time with witnesses however. Since it has been 22 years. We were divorced 20 years ago. Was wondering if anyone happened to know what the witnesses are actually sent to fill out? Thanks for any help you can offer!.l


It may vary in your diocese, but in my case, my witnesses were sent a list of about 16 questions and asked to answer truthfully and to the best of their ability…i.e., if they don’t know the answer, it’s OK to answer with “I don’t know”. They recieved a letter from the Tribunal that explained what they needed to do and answered some FAQs about the annulment process in general.

Talk to a priest or your pastor and he will be glad to answer any questions you have.


I have an Advocate at the Church that is handling things for me, however, He doesn’t seem to have ever seen the “other side” of the paperwork. (Witness questions, former spouse info) Will it hurt a case terribly if the former spouse does NOT respond?? I seriously doubt that mine would make any effort with anything he is sent.
Just wondering! Thanks


Your ex-spouse responding should have no bearing on the process. If he doesn’t respond, the process goes on without his input. The Tribunal must just make an effort to locate him and offer him the chance.

My pastor was my advocate and he also never saw my ex’s responses to anything. The Tribunal judge I met with had my ex’s statements. I was given a chance to go to the Tribunal offices and read what he and his witnesses had said and then give a response if I felt it was necessary.

My ex sent everything in after the Tribunal “deadlines” but that didn’t slow things down much.


My witnesses were simply interviewed over the phone.


I’ve heard of that, too. I wonder…did they swear to tell the truth during the phone interview? Mine all had to sign a sworn statement when they returned their written answers.


Wow, that would make it easy. My witnesses spent hours (12 I am told) filling out questionnaires and then had to have them notarized.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit