Tribunal and Annulments
The Tribunal is established by canon law as the judicial office and court system of the Church. The majority of its work involves resolving questions of marital validity; however, the Tribunal works with other sacramental matters, as well. By interpreting and applying the laws of the Church, it protects the rights of all the Christian Faithful.
Declaration of Nullity: A Ministry of Justice and Reconciliation
Marriage is no mere human construct, “but rather is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.” (CCC 1603) The fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught, “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws…God himself is the author of marriage.” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 48 §1).
The Catholic Church takes seriously the numerous invocations in scripture regarding divorce: Our Lord Jesus taught, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife…and marries another commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9). For this reason, the Catholic Church does not recognize civil divorce as dissolving a marriage legitimately entered into, nor does she permit those who have merely divorced civilly to remarry, lest She encourage and participate in a state of objective sin.
In accord with the Gospels, the writings of St. Paul and centuries of Christian tradition, the Catholic Church teaches that every consummated sacramental marriage is indissoluble. No man, not a civil authority, nor even the Pope himself, is able to dissolve such a marriage, regardless of any claims to the contrary. Rather, such a union can only be truly dissolved by the death of one of the spouses.
The Catholic Church presumes that every marriage, or at least every initial marriage, including a marriage between two non-Catholics, is valid. Nevertheless, not every relationship that at first blush looks like a marriage is in fact so. We refer to these as “Invalid Marriages”, that is, an apparent marriage which lacked something essential which is necessary to bring about a true and binding marital union. Invalidity can occur from several sources including fraud, an inability to consent, or impediments (either divine or ecclesiastical) established in the law. Should one be able to prove such a source of invalidity, the Church is able, through a judicial process, to recognize the fact of invalidity by declaring a marriage “invalid”. If invalidity is proven, freedom to marry can be regained.
To begin the process, please contact the tribunal (701-356-7940) or your local priest to receive a copy of the relevant forms (clergy password required).
Frequently asked questions about annulments.
When married people become single again through separation, divorce, or death, the happiness and confidence they experienced as part of being a couple may seem distant and, for some, completely out of reach when faced with being single again. Beginning Experience is an excellent help for people who are hurting and grieving in these ways. It’s sponsored by the Catholic Church, but open to people of every, or no faith.
- Form A (PDF) Pre-Marriage Inquiry
- Form B (PDF) Dispensations
- Form C (PDF) Affidavit of Marital Freedom
- Form D (PDF) Testimony of Parents or Guardians of Minors
- Form E (PDF) Radical Sanations
- Form F (PDF) Notification of Marriage
- Form G (PDF) Petition for Marriage of one under 20 years of age
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5201 Bishops Blvd S, Suite A
Fargo, ND 58104