It must be stated that a declaration of nullity does not intend to put blame on either party. Either party to a marriage for which a divorce has been granted and no one else may petition for the Church to study the former union in hope of obtaining a declaration of nullity. This note applies only to cases of defective consent therefore, it does not apply to the dissolutions above described, nor to cases of non-observance of canonical form and ligamen.
A diocesan tribunal may accept only those cases over which it can claim jurisdiction. The Tribunal of Springfield in Illinois can claim jurisdiction over your case if one of the following is true: 1. Thomas, U. Virgin Islands ; otherwise, it is not possible for us to claim jurisdiction. If only the fourth basis of jurisdiction, or only the third and fourth bases of jurisdiction, apply to you, we must consult with the tribunal of the place where the other party lives before we can claim jurisdiction.
If the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois cannot consider your petition due to a lack of jurisdiction, you may use these links to find a diocese which can claim jurisdiction: Dioceses of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholic Dioceses Worldwide. Please visit our Contact Page for information on how to contact us.
You can also visit our Staff Directory for a listing of Tribunal staff members. The respondent is not cited in the "documentary" cases non-observance of canonical form, ligamen , although obviously the respondent can be a very helpful source of information. In all other cases, it is necessary for the very validity of the process that the respondent's rights be protected -- and so the respondent must be cited.
Citation involves sending a certified letter to the respondent and giving the respondent an opportunity to participate. The respondent may choose not to exercise his or her right to participate in the process; if this is the case, the process will continue without any problem. Tribunal Services expects that the petitioner will act in good faith by providing the address of the respondent.
If there is a need to search for the respondent, Tribunal Services expects an honest effort by the petitioner to locate the respondent. If the respondent cannot be located, the petitioner should submit a letter to Tribunal Services recounting the steps that were taken to locate the respondent. If the former spouse cannot be found after all reasonable attempts have been made, the tribunal process can begin. After the initial contact with Tribunal Services, parish leadership, or an advocate, the petitioner will submit a petition with necessary documents marriage license, divorce decree, baptismal certificates, etc.
The petition form should be completed carefully and thoroughly. The forms are not available on the web but are obtainable from Tribunal Services, parish leadership, and advocates. Non-observance of form cases are processed very quickly. Ligamen cases are also processed quickly depending on the completeness of the information submitted.
Dissolutions require the tribunal's contacting of parties and witnesses. Therefore, Pauline cases can take three months. Petrine cases likewise require three months before they are forwarded to Rome; our wait for processing by Rome can be nine months.
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The information submitted is reviewed by the tribunal staff to see whether grounds for nullity can be determined. If the judge finds indications of possible nullity, he accepts the case and determines grounds of nullity. At this time the respondent is cited as described above, and witnesses are contacted.
The law of the Church requires that the petitioner name witnesses who will be contacted by Tribunal Services to shed light on the marriage. Before witnesses are listed in the petition, the petitioner must determine their willingness to cooperate and their knowledge of the dynamics of the former marriage. Witnesses will be contacted by mail by Tribunal Services and asked to answer some questions about the marriage. If the case is being tried on psychological grounds, the judge may have a court expert in psychology evaluate the parties based on the information provided by the parties and witnesses.
After the reception of this report, the judge "publishes" the case file; in practice this means that the parties can exercise their right to read the information gathered. Normally the parties exercise this right by coming to the Tribunal Services office to read the file. After the parties have been afforded this opportunity, the file is closed and the case proceeds to the discussion phase, during which the parties' advocates may submit briefs if requested by the judge and the defender of the bond must intervene to bring forward reasonable arguments in favor of the validity of the marriage in question.
Whether or not the marriage is valid or invalid is normally decided by a panel of three judges: persons who are experts in marriage law. Due to a shortage of such personnel, however, in most instances the decision is made by a single judge who is ordained a priest or deacon. All that Tribunal Services can verify is how long a process typically takes once the tribunal has received the petition, Marital Dynamics Survey, and related documents.
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Needless to say, a petitioner will have to take considerable time to prepare the petition and especially the Marital Dynamics Survey; the preparation time will vary with each petitioner. The progress of the case -- once Tribunal Services has received the petition -- depends upon the quality of testimony from witnesses and the speed with which they cooperate.
Assuming that an affirmative decision is given by the Springfield tribunal and if it is then ratified by the Court of Appeals, it can be estimated NOT promised that the entire process will take at least eight to ten months from the time the petition is received. If an affirmative decision is given, the case will be reviewed by the Court of Appeals of the Province of Chicago.
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If the affirmative decision is ratified, the parties are then understood to be free to enter a new marriage provided nothing else stands in the way. If the affirmative decision is overturned, the case will then be reviewed by the Rota, the worldwide appeals court in Rome. If a negative decision is given, the parties have the right to seek another study of the marriage by the Court of Appeals.
If the negative decision is overturned, however, the case will then be reviewed by the Rota. A date may not be set for a new marriage unless and until an affirmative decision has been ratified by the Court of Appeals and the parties have been notified of this ratification. It is not until the ratification that the parties are considered free to marry. A declaration of nullity is exclusively religious in scope.
It is concerned only with the status of persons in the Catholic Church. Any marriage entered into in good faith by at least one party, if it is at some point declared null, is recognized in Catholic Church law as a "putative" marriage, which has a special status. Children of putative marriages are understood to be legitimate.
Petitioners are asked to pay a fee in order to meet these costs. The fee can be paid at once or in installments.
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It must be stressed that the tribunal administers justice regardless of the payment or nonpayment of fees. No one should delay petitioning for a dissolution or declaration of nullity because of money concerns. For more information You may contact judges Father Kevin Laughery or Father Dean Probst, parish leadership, or an advocate; or you may communicate directly with Tribunal Services. Although many Catholics may have heard of a declaration of nullity regarding marriage, the two priests serving in the diocesan Office for the Tribunal believe it is important for people to fully understand the process that happens in their office.
Father Kevin Laughery and Father Dean Probst are both parish pastors and canon lawyers who serve in the tribunal. Father Laughery is judicial vicar and a diocesan judge and Father Probst is a diocesan judge. Having a marriage declared null can be stressful, but it forces a person to take a serious look at his or her life, says one resident of the Springfield diocese.
He and his former wife were both Catholic and had been married a total of eight years including the time they were separated, but had no children. I just basically wanted to move on with my life. Additionally he, teaches liturgical and music workshops and composes music. He also served in the office of student affairs at the University of Notre Dame. Currently he assists at parishes and on a local army base in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Retiring from active ministry, he currently lives in the Diocese of Greensburg. He is founder and chaplain of a division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Greensburg, an Irish fraternal organization. One of his most profound experiences during his years of priesthood was providing pastoral care for a man who, after being shot in a robbery, became a quadriplegic, yet has forgiven his attackers. There he says he learned that mercy is not something God doles out; rather it is a way of life.
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Taking awareness trips to Latin America with parishioners allows them to have a first-hand experience of the work of Unbound. Long active in ecumenical relations between Catholics and evangelicals, he was field representative of the U. He has served as vocation director, fundraiser, director of program to start mission churches with lay pastoral ministers, and President of Glenmary.
Father Ruff enjoys gardening, canning vegetables, and raising animals. He continues to serve on the Glenmary Ecumenical Commission. His work has not only included assisting with clothing and food banks but also administering funds to people in need after Hurricane Katrina. Father Schmitt enjoys golf, walking and woodworking.
Father Pike Thomas, ordained for the Diocese of Shreveport, has served in pastoral ministry for 32 years as well as president of Presbyteral Council of the diocese, vicar for clergy, vicar for clergy continuing development and member of the diocesan liturgical commission. As a chaplain at the David Wade Correctional Center, he ministered to the spiritual needs of the people.
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