The Petitioner – the person seeking an annulment – begins at the parish level, working with a priest, deacon or religious on the Tribunal’s Referral form. The parish representative will then provide the Petitioner with a longer questionnaire that gives him or her an opportunity to elaborate on the reasons for the alleged nullity of the marriage. Certificates of baptism, marriage, divorce, names of witnesses and other information will be required. The Respondent – the former spouse – is then contacted to give his or her testimony regarding the marriage.
A Judge of the Tribunal reviews the case in a formal hearing or a reading of the information presented. Tribunal counselors may interview the Petitioner. If the former spouse has not yet responded, he or she is contacted again.
The written decision of the Priest-Judge is formulated. Parties are then notified.
Both the Petitioner and the Respondent may call for an appeal if they disagree with the initial finding. According to the Code of Canon Law, a favorable decision cannot be acted upon until either the time for appeal has expired or (if appealed) the decision has been confirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Providence Tribunal will guide any possible appeal, on behalf of the parties, and will let them know when a decision is final.
Petitioners and Respondents meet with a Pastoral Counselor. Decrees will be presented and explained. Conditions or restrictions will be discussed.