Types of Marriage Cases
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.
If you believe that you have grounds for invalidity or dissolution of your
marriage under the laws of the Roman Catholic Church, your first point of
contact should be your local parish or a parish which you find convenient.
We encourage you to make an appointment with a parish minister (an Advocate)
trained and delegated to assist with the preparation of marriage cases. You
will be asked to tell your story to the Advocate, focusing on your religious
and family background, the events and circumstances that led to your decision
to marry, the wedding, and your married life. The Advocate will listen, help
clarify the key issues, determine what type of case you have, and assist with
procedural and jurisdiction questions. If it appears that the basis for a case
exists, you will receive forms appropriate to the type of case you have. You
are the Petitioner in the marriage case(s); your former spouse(s) is/are the
The following is a brief description of the five types of cases most often
handled by the Seattle Metropolitan Tribunal. If you have more than one previous
marriage, each must be addressed individually. The circumstances of each
marriage will determine the type of case that applies to each individual marriage.
A formal case begins with your submission of a petition for
of invalidity, along with answers to a questionnaire, and
You should prepare a draft of your answers to the questionnaire and review it
with the Advocate in a subsequent meeting. This is a very important step in
the preparation of your petition. A well-prepared preliminary deposition can
facilitate the processing of the case and save much time in the later stages.
Take time and reflect, endeavoring to answer the questions as objectively
and completely as possible, avoiding both simple “yes” or “no” answers, and
lengthy, unnecessary or irrelevant detail. Your answers preferably should be
typed or handwritten clearly.
While working on your questionnaire, you will also wish to gather the
necessary religious and civil documents (e.g., baptismal and marriage
certificate(s), final divorce decree, etc.). The Advocate will also assist
you in completing the petition form and other preliminary documentation. Both
as a matter of justice to the other spouse, and to meet the requirements of
canon law, the former spouse must be contacted by the Tribunal. You will be
asked to provide the names and current addresses of your former spouse and
After providing the Advocate with payment of the filing fee for the
Tribunal, he/she will mail your case, together with recommendations or
comments. (See What are the costs? in
The Tribunal will send a letter acknowledging receipt of your case.
It will be assigned a case name and number, and you will be informed of
the steps to follow in the canonical process.