November 15, 2019

Advice and insights for pursuing a declaration of marriage nullity

As a judge instructor for the archdiocese’s tribunal, Daniel Ross offers insights and advice for people who are considering pursuing a “declaration of marriage nullity”—commonly referred to as an annulment.

The role of the tribunal staff:

“We in the tribunal view our work as a ministry. We are here to serve the Church, which is the body of Christ, and help bring all her members more fully into communion with Jesus Christ. We daily encounter people—whether in person, over the phone, or in their written words—and strive to assist them in going through the process of a marriage nullity case. Our office is composed of both lay women and men, as well as priests and religious. All of us in the tribunal have taken an oath of confidentiality, and we take that oath with the utmost seriousness.”

A goal of care and compassion:

“We see much suffering and hurt which people have lived through, and it is always our goal to compassionately minister to the people who approach us. Many of us have loved ones who have gone through the pain of divorce and several who have been through a marriage nullity process. When I am working with people, I always try to help them with the same care as I would want my own family to be treated. I pray daily for all the people in whose cases I am involved.”

Help in understanding the process:

“I would encourage anyone who is unsure about the whole idea to at least discuss the possibility of pursuing a declaration of marriage nullity with

his/her pastor to look at his/her concrete situation. Many people are unaware of much of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Even more so are people less familiar with the Church’s Code of Canon Law and what does or does not render a marriage invalid.

“There are many misconceptions about what the Church believes and teaches concerning marriage. We strive to help people understand those teachings and attempt to bring them toward a way of life that is in harmony with what the Church believes about the goodness, truth and beauty of the marriage covenant.”

Help in starting the process:

“If someone is interested in starting a marriage nullity case, I recommend that he/she reach out to one of our trained, volunteer field associates. A field associate can assist a person with answering some questions and filling out some initial forms. A list of our field associates is available on our website at www.archindy.org/tribunal/field.

Assistance available in Spanish:

“We have field associates who speak Spanish, and our entire website and initial forms are available in Spanish.”

For more information:

“Our website (www.archindy.org/tribunal) is a great place to find out more information about the process, and our initial forms are available there, as well as many informational resources.

“A person is always welcome to reach out directly to our office via phone or e-mail—tribunal@archindy.org, 317-236-1460 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1460. We will do all we can to get you started and heading where you need to go.” †

Related story: Group’s support leads to hope and healing in the soul-searching journey of annulment

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