Fr. Michael Fahlman
1415-4th Ave. West
Prince Albert, SK S6V 5H1
Telephone: (306) 922-4747 ext 254
Fax: (306) 922-4754
"The annulment process offers healing and a second chance at marriage in the Catholic Church."
The Catholic Church protects Jesus' teaching about the sacredness and permanence of marriage. But the Church also provides justice for anyone whose marriage has failed when it can be proven that the marriage lacked from the beginning some essential element for a true sacramental bond.
An Annulment (properly known as a Declaration of Nullity) is a judgment by the Catholic Church that a certain marriage is invalid (not binding) because some essential element of marriage was not there when the couple exchanged marriage vows.
How long will an annulment take?
In the Diocese of Prince Albert, the process now takes on average eight months to a year, but depends on the availability of witnesses, the cooperation of the parties, and the grounds for the case. A new marriage in the Catholic Church cannot take place until a Declaration of Nullity is granted.
Applicants are reminded that there is no guarantee that a Declaration of Nullity will be granted because the Tribunal cannot grant one if the marriage had all the essential elements of a Christian marriage: interpersonal relationship between the partners, openness to procreation and education of children, commitment to indissolubility (permanence), community of life between the partners, fidelity, and acceptance of each other as unique and independent individuals.
Is it confidential?
Yes. All Tribunal employees have taken an oath of confidentiality. Your family members, witnesses, or parish priest will not be given access to your confidential file.
Does getting an annulment make my children illegitimate?
No. The children of a couple who obtains a Declaration of Nullity are still legitimate because the Declaration of Nullity does not destroy the legal validity of the marriage. It simply declares that in the eyes of the Church, the marriage was not sacramental because the essential elements were not there and no true bond was ever established.
Doesn't the Catholic Church "look down" on divorced people?
No. While upholding the sacredness and permanence of marriage, the Catholic Church knows the reality of separation and divorce and tries to reach out to those who are struggling with the pain of a marriage that has broken down. Divorced Catholics are considered full members of the church and have the right to holy communion. However, if they remarry without having obtained an annulment or if they are living in a common-law relationship, they can no longer receive the sacrament of communion in the Catholic Church.
The Church also recognizes the validity of a marriage between baptized non-Catholics, so if a Catholic wants to marry a divorced non-Catholic Christian, the non-Catholic must obtain an annulment before being allowed to marry in the Catholic Church.
Grounds for Annulment include lack of sufficient use of reason, lack of discretion about essential matrimonial rights and obligations, and inability to assume the essential obligations of marriage due to psychological causes. The validity of a marriage can be examined when there is a lack of consent, such as in the case of immaturity or psychic incapacity; a lack of knowledge, such as deceit or error about the person; or a lack of will, such as when force or grave fear is imposed or when there is intention against procreation.
How much will an annulment cost?
There is an expense to the annulment process. In order to defray some of these expenses the applicant (Plaintiff) is asked to consider making a contribution towards these expenses in the amount totalling $500. This amount can be made in smaller payments over time if needed, or a smaller amount in contribution, in the applicant’s choosing. No one is ever turned away regardless of their ability to make a contribution towards the fees. As of 2019, tax receipts for all contributions received will be mailed out at the end of the year from the Regina Regional Tribunal directly to the applicant (Plaintiff).
Do I have to be divorced before applying for an annulment?
No. You can apply for a Declaration of Nullity before your divorce has been granted if the Tribunal is assured there is no possibility of reconciliation between you and your spouse. The application can be accepted before the civil divorce is final, but no formal processing of a case takes place until a copy of the divorce certificate is obtained by the Tribunal.
Does my "ex" have to be notified if I apply for an annulment?
Yes. Because of Human Rights, both parties of the marriage are given the same opportunity to provide input as the Tribunal tries to determine the facts of a marriage breakdown. If the former spouse ignores or refuses the invitation, however, the process can still continue. You will not be required to have any direct contact with your former spouse.
How do I apply for an Annulment?
Contact your parish priest or the Marriage Tribunal for a Preliminary Investigation form to fill out and return to our office. Required documents are your baptism, marriage and divorce certificates.
You will then be interviewed at the Marriage Tribunal office and asked for a chronological review of what happened in your courtship and marriage.
You will be asked to provide the names and addresses of witnesses (usually three) -- especially persons who knew both you and your ex-spouse before the marriage. The children of the marriage are almost never involved as witnesses and even then this applies only to those who are adults.
Your former spouse will be contacted and invited to participate in the process by being interviewed and possibly naming witnesses. The case can still proceed without the ex-spouse's participation or approval.
The witnesses will be interviewed. All the material will be evaluated by a Defender of the Bond, a canon lawyer who defends the bond of marriage by raising any reasonable objections to granting a Declaration of Nullity.
The case will be studied by judge appointed by the Church who will decide if the marriage is null or valid, based on all the information provided.
You and your ex-spouse (if they choose to be notified) will be notified by mail of the decision and given a specific time period to appeal it.
Either party can choose to appeal a decision, of which then the case would be sent to the Canadian Appeal Tribunal for further examination.
If there is no appeal, the case is completed and both parties would be notified and receive their declaration of invalidity. In some cases, even if the marriage is declared null and void, there is no automatic permission for either party to remarry in the Catholic Church. In some of the annulments that are granted, restrictions are placed on either the applicant or ex-spouse regarding remarriage in a Catholic Church, such as having to consult or obtain consent from the local Ordinary beforehand or requiring the bishop's consent. This is because the Church must be reasonably assured, in the interest of upholding the dignity of marriage, that any new marriage would not suffer the same condition which made the first marriage invalid.