The Tribunal is the judicial branch of the Des Moines diocese. This department is responsible for assisting with matters pertaining to Church law, known as Canon law. While the department addresses matters delegated by Bishop Richard Pates, its primary work focuses on receiving and investigating petitions for declaration of invalidity of marriages, commonly known as annulments.
Experiencing the breakdown of a marriage is difficult to say the least. One's hopes and dreams, investment and resources, are placed in the sacramental relationship that's expected to last a lifetime. Divorce, then, is an experience that can be described as traumatic and full of grief. The Catholic Church recognizes the pain and hurt associated with divorce and offers healing for those who want to move on, while retaining the dignity and validity of marriage.
As a part of the journey toward healing after the end of a marriage, individuals may seek a declaration by the Church that their marriage was not valid in the eyes of the Church. This is called an annulment, or decree of nullity. This does not mean that parties are free of obligations of the union, such as the welfare of children. An annulment acknowledges there was a wedding ceremony, or a relationship existed. An annulment determines whether an essential element was lacking in the consent of at least one partner in the marriage. If so, the union would not be valid according to the Church's understanding of marriage.
Below are the documents to help one get started on the annulment process.
For more information, contact the diocesan Tribunal office at 237-5030.