Pope Francis’ changes regarding Declaration of Nullity

This past fall many people became aware that Pope Francis had tweaked some of the regulations regarding petitions for a Declaration of Nullity, commonly called an annulment.  This “Ask the Pastor” is being written to help clarify some of the changes.

First: In the past those who had been divorced who petitioned for a Declaration of Nullity could do so only in a location that had jurisdiction, namely 1) where the marriage was performed, and 2) where the respondent (spouse of the petitioner) lived.  The regulations were changed to permit the petitioner to file the petition where they live regardless of where the marriage took place or where the respondent lives. 

While this may not seem like a big deal, in a time when people move around the country or migrate internationally this is an important change.  No longer does someone living in West Virginia have to go to Hawaii or to New York to file a petition.  No longer does someone living in West Virginia have to go to Mexico or to Slovakia to file a petition.  The local diocese can now handle these petitions.

Second: In the past if a tribunal made an affirmative decision, approving the petition, the decision was automatically appealed to another jurisdiction to ensure the original ruling was not faulty.  The regulations were changed to eliminate the automatic appeal.  This means that the amount of time required to process a petition is reduced by as much as several months.

These two changes can make a difference.  While Pope Francis also said there should be no charge for the petition to be processed, this did not affect our diocese as for many years there has been no fee charged for a petition to be processed.  In some diocese the fees attached where high leading people to think they were buying an annulment.

If you are not able to receive the sacraments because of a divorce and remarriage, please come to see me or another priest to explore the possibility of petitioning for a Declaration of Nullity.

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

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