Skip Navigation Links
The Light Is OnExpand The Light Is On
Parish NewsExpand Parish News
NW CatholicExpand NW Catholic
Contact Us
DirectoryExpand Directory
SearchExpand Search
Skip Navigation Links
The ArchdioceseExpand The Archdiocese
Archives & RecordsExpand Archives & Records
Catholic Cemeteries
Catholic SchoolsExpand Catholic Schools
CYO AthleticsExpand CYO Athletics
EcumenismExpand Ecumenism
Ethnic & Pastoral CareExpand Ethnic & Pastoral Care
Faith FormationExpand Faith Formation
Human ResourcesExpand Human Resources
Library/Media CenterExpand Library/Media Center
LiturgyExpand Liturgy
MissionsExpand Missions
Retreat CenterExpand Retreat Center
Safe EnvironmentExpand Safe Environment
StewardshipExpand Stewardship
The TribunalExpand The Tribunal
Vicar for ClergyExpand Vicar for Clergy
VocationsExpand Vocations
Youth & Young AdultExpand Youth & Young Adult
Home | The Tribunal | Frequently Asked Questions Email, Print, Bookmark and Share

Frequently Asked Questions

On September 8, 2015, Pope Francis issued new law governing Marriage Cases Processes. This law is presented in two documents, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (for the Latin Church) and Mitis et misericors Iesus (for the Eastern Rite Churches), which are available on the Vatican website, in Latin and Italian only. The new law goes into effect December 8, 2015.

The current law governing marriage nullity cases remains in effect through December 7, 2015.
The facts below reflect this current law. New information to include and reflect the new law will be provided here in the near future.

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions. Individual circumstances vary, and may require a more detailed answer. If you do not find the answers to your questions, or desire further detail, contact the Tribunal at 206-382-4830 or 800-950-4926 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday through Friday to speak with a member of the Tribunal staff.

What is marriage?
What marriages are considered valid by the Catholic Church?
Is marriage a sacrament?
Yes, if both spouses are validly baptized, the marriage is a sacrament.
What about marriage involving one or both parties who are not baptized?
Can non-Catholics receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, too?
Doesn't a priest have to be present?
How is it possible to declare a marriage invalid?
Isn't marriage forever?
What is divorce?
Does a Declaration of Invalidity (Annulment) mean that the marriage never happened?
Does a Declaration of Invalidity (Annulment) make children of the marriage illegitimate?
Besides declaring a marriage invalid, are there other ways of dealing with marriage cases?
What is the Tribunal?
What is the purpose of the Tribunal?
What are the steps involved in determining the status of a marriage or the freedom to marry?
How long does the process take?
Must the other spouse be contacted by the Tribunal?
What if the whereabouts of the other spouse is unknown?
What are the rights of the other spouse (the Respondent)?
What if the Respondent refuses to cooperate?
Why should the Respondent cooperate?
Who are Advocates?
How do I locate an Advocate?
Are witnesses necessary?
Can anyone be a witness?
Who will read what is submitted?
May future marriage plans be made?
What books contain further information on the Catholic Church and Marriage Cases?
Sex Abuse and Misconduct Hotline: 1 800 446-7762
Links  |   Feedback/Errors  |   Privacy Policy  |   Editor Login