Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church offers, to those whose marriage has irretrievable broken down, its pastoral care; supporting them on their journey to keep them under the loving gaze of God. The Church surrounds all of our families with its love, care and support and for those whose lives have been changed and hurt, offers healing and reconciliation to ensure they are invaluable members of God’s family.
As part of the outreach of the Diocese of Rockhampton, through its Tribunal Office, the Bishop ensures that all who come to seek advice on their broken relationship will be listened to, assured confidentiality, and guided on the path of healing and wholeness. The Tribunal Office is the first place to begin the process. In complete confidence, an application for an annulment can be made and our Tribunal people will assist you in all aspects of preparing your application.
Annulments are official Church declarations by the Marriage Tribunal that the agreement made by a couple on the wedding day was not the binding agreement it was thought to be.
An annulment or Decree of Nullity frees the parties to enter a marriage according to the Rites of the Catholic Church once all other requirements of law have been fulfilled.
A decree of nullity does not mean that there was never any love between the parties, that they were lacking sincerity, effort or commitment. Nor does it mean that there was no marriage as generally understood by the community at large. In Australia, a Decree of Nullity has no effect in civil law.
The Regional Tribunal is a Catholic Church court where ecclesiastical judges make decisions for the five dioceses of Queensland – Brisbane, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns. There are Tribunal offices in each city. The Regional Tribunal makes decisions mainly about marriage nullity cases or annulments.
The Tribunal staff are priests, religious men and women and lay men and women. All are trained in Canon Law, especially the laws of the Church about marriage.
Who can approach the Tribunal?
Anyone who wants to clarify their marital status in terms of the law of the Catholic Church is welcome.
How is a Decision reached?
The Tribunal gathers the facts of the matter from the documents presented and oral evidence. The Tribunal needs to know about the background and upbringing of each of the parties, their courtship, the story of their marriage and the story since the marriage.
The party seeking the decree of nullity gives evidence in a private interview with a member of the Tribunal staff. The other party to the marriage is invited to take part in an interview that is conducted in the same manner.
Every encouragement is given to both parties to participate as fully as possible.
Both parties to the marriage are invited to nominate witnesses who are willing and able to speak to the facts of the case. The witnesses are interviewed in the same manner as the parties to the marriage.
When there is sufficient evidence gathered, the Tribunal Judges make a formal decision. The parties to the marriage do not attend the judgment session. Advocates may represent them if desired.
The Defender of the Bond, a Tribunal official, always submits observations which uphold the teachings of the Church on marriage.
The decision of the Judges at the local level (First Instance) declares either that the marriage agreement is invalid (an affirmative decision) or that the evidence does not allow such a decision to be made (a negative decision).
Costs and timeframes
The Bishops of Queensland have dispensed with charges for the work done by the Tribunal in a full nullity case. However, we gratefully accept any donation you would like to make to support our work.
How long does the process take?
Sometimes it takes less than a year to complete, but at other times it may take considerably longer.
People should not make any arrangements for the celebration of a marriage in the Catholic Church until the final decision has been given.
Rockhampton Diocesan Tribunal Office
07 4887 3079 firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 611
170 William Street
Rockhampton Qld 4700