FAQs about Annulments

What is an annulment?

The Church has always had the authority to set procedures for identifying and granting a decree of nullity, also known as an annulment, which declares that no sacramental marriage has taken place. You can find more information about the Church's teaching on marriage and divorce here.

How do I begin an annulment process?

You should begin by contacting your parish priest (even if you were married in a different diocese). Once you contact the priest, he will take you step by step through the process. It is required that an individual wait a year after their civil divorce is finalized before beginning the annulment process.

What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

A divorce ends a legally binding or civil marriage. An annulment declares that a valid sacramental marriage never existed. A divorce proceeding focuses on the condition of the couple after the marriage ceremony. An annulment proceeding focuses on the condition of the couple before, during, and immediately following the marriage ceremony

I want to marry someone of another faith who is already divorced, does he or she need an annulment?

Yes. The Catholic Church respects the marriages of non-Catholics and presumes that they are valid. Thus, for example, it considers the marriages of two Protestant, Jewish, or even nonbelieving persons to be binding for life. Marriages between baptized persons, moreover, are considered to be sacramental. The Church requires a declaration of nullity in order to establish that an essential element was missing in any previous union that prevented it from being a valid marriage. Only after receiving the annulment is someone free to marry again.

What are the needed documents for the annulment process?

Certain documents will be requested at the beginning of the annulment process. These include a petition, which is a formal request for an annulment; a document that appoints a particular individual to be your advocate in the case; a series of questions that will ask that you reflect on your time of dating and marriage; civil documents such as a divorce decree; and church documents such as a baptismal certificate.

Does my former spouse necessarily need to cooperate in the annulment process?

Both spouses have equal rights in an annulment proceeding, and a former spouse will be contacted. But that doesn't mean that the Respondent—the former spouse of the person who starts the annulment process—has to agree to an annulment or even participate in the process. An annulment can be granted even if the former spouse is opposed to the idea.

What is the fee for an annulment application?

As of December 2015, there are no fees in place for the annulment application in the Diocese of Evansville. Find more information about revisions to annulment procedures in the Year of Mercy here

How does having children affect the annulment process?

The Catholic Church considers an openness to children to be a natural and essential part of sacramental marriage, but having children does not negate the possibility of an annulment. If children were born, it is important that both parents live up to their natural and legal obligations to their children. An annulment has no effect on the legitimacy of children, or other arrangements regarding children, such as custody or support. Children are a gift from God and they should be cared for throughout.

How long does it take to grant an annulment?

Every annulment case is different, and some processes are longer than others, but the average time for an annulment case in the Diocese of Evansville has been six months. Recent revisions to the process set forth by Pope Francis (effective December 2015) may shorten the process by up to three months. Some types of cases involving a baptized Catholic marrying outside the Catholic Church without permission can be finished in a month or less.

What are some of the reasons why an annulment might be granted?

Three essential aspects of sacramental marriage are that it is: free, faithful, and fruitful.  Free, in that the couple has freely chosen to give of themselves in marriage; faithful, in that the couple enters into the marriage understanding its perpetual and exclusive nature; and fruitful, in that the couple orders their marriage toward the procreation and education of children. An annulment may be granted if a tribunal determines that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of these essential elements required for a binding union. The annulment process will help you reflect upon your marriage in light of these essential aspects.