The Diocese of Des Moines

Divorce Care

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.


In order to assist in healing after a divorce and to accompany those who have gone through this painful experience the diocese facilitates two healing programs, Beginning Experience and The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide.


Beginning Experience is a weekend retreat for adults grieving the loss of a love relationship through death, divorce or separation, who are ready to come to terms with their loss and begin to move forward with their lives. You can learn more about this program by visiting their webisite here. For upcoming dates and more information about our local group contact Dana at 515-975-3745 or Kathy at 515-339-7191.


The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide is a ministry for men and women who have suffered from divorce: The 12-week program features 30-minute DVD episodes each week that cover topics of shock, denial, anger, grief, guilt, forgiveness, money, the courts, the kids, the ex-spouse, annulment, dating, sexuality, spirituality, remarriage or staying single, and much more. To learn more about this program visit their website here or contact our local leader Deacon Tony Valdez at 515-979-2301 or 


Contact Adam Storey to find out when the next Catholic Divorce Survival Guide will meet. 


Tribunal and annulments

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.

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.


Many people have questions regarding what an annulment means and what the annulment process entails. To answer frequently asked questions regarding annulments the Tribunal have developed a brochure which can be viewed here.


In September, 2015 Pope Francis issued a Motu Proprio, or changes that he'd like to see with the annulment process. Here is Bishop Pates' statement regarding the pope's intiatives as they pertain to the Diocese of Des Moines.

For more information, contact the diocesan Tribunal office at 237-5004.