Getting Started

All petitions for a declaration of invalidity for a prior marriage must be submitted to the Tribunal through your local parish. A final decree of civil divorce must be obtained before a case can be submitted. Usually the pastor or administrator or someone else appointed in the parish, case assistant, works with petitioners who want to present their cases to the Tribunal.

In advance of your meeting, you may wish to fill in the appropriate form below, download and print it to take with you to your first appointment at the parish. For most petitions, you would complete the preliminary questionnaire form.

The questionnaire for lack of canonical form only applies to prior marriages in which one party to the marriage was a baptized Catholic. Baptized Catholics are bound to a specific form when they exchange vows in marriage. The conditions for a baptized Catholic to validly marry are either the vows must be exchanged before a Catholic Priest or a Catholic deacon. Or, they must have obtained a dispensation from their Bishop to marry in another ceremony (e.g. before a Methodist minister.) If the vows were not exchanged before a Catholic priest or Catholic deacon, and no dispensation was granted for a ceremony outside of this form, you can use the questionnaire for lack of canonical form instead of the preliminary questionnaire.

The lack of canonical form petition should not be used if the prior marriage was between two non-Catholics. The Catholic Church normally recognizes the marriages of non-Catholics as valid. Use the preliminary questionnaire for marriages between two non-Catholics.

There is an instruction sheet on each form. After you meet with the person at your parish assigned to work with petitioners on their cases and both of you have signed the form to be submitted, you are encouraged to make a copy for your own files before you leave the information with your case assistant for mailing.

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