The first step of the annulment process is for the person petitioning the Tribunal to complete an Application for the the Ecclesiastical Investigation of the Validity of Marriage. This application may be printed from the pdf version on this webpage or may be requested by calling the Tribunal Office at 508-791-7171.
All questions on the application must be completed in detail. The applicant may use additional paper to complete the questions, if necessary. Upon completion, the application along with the Petitioner's baptism certificate, marriage certificate from the church, and Absolute divorce decree must be returned to the Tribunal Office at the Diocese of Worcester, 49 Elm Street, Worcester, MA 01609. The applicant should contact the church where he/she was baptized, the church where the marriage took place, and the court which finalized the divorce to obtain copies of these documents. Please note that the court document needed by the Tribunal office is the page of the divorce decree which states that the divorce is "absolute" and gives the date that it became final.
Following receipt of the application a Libellus will be sent to the Petitioner along with a Petition Signature Form. Once the Petitioner has signed and returned the Libellus and the Petition Signature Form to the Tribunal Office the case will officially be opened. The Petitioner's former spouse will be informed of this procedure and will be given the opportunity to present his/her testimony. The Petitioner's testimony may be viewed by his/her former spouse, if requested, in accord with the norms of Church Law. The Petitioner has a similar right to view his/her former spouse's testimony. The Petitioner is asked to provide the names and current addresses of FOUR witnesses who can provide information about the parties background, courtship, wedding and the history of the marriage. A good witness may be a parent, sibling, relative or friend. Petitioners should inform witnesses that the Tribunal shall contact them. Both parties have the right to view the testimony of witnesses provided the witnesses sign a waiver permitting them to do so. The witnesses will be informed of this.
Both parties have the right to the services of an Advocate. To obtain an Advocate, please contact the Tribunal Office.
Once all testimony has been received the case is reviewed by the Tribunal Psychologist who then writes an evaluation. The case is then given to the Defender of the Bond who does the same. Then the Judicial Vicar sets the grounds upon which the case will be heard. Letters will be sent to both the Petitioner and Respondent informing them of the grounds and giving them ten (10) days in which to notify the Tribunal if they have any objections to the grounds. After ten days have passed, the Petitioner and Respondent will both be sent a notice of the Publication of the Acts. This is simply a notification that they each have ten (10) days to review the acts of the case or to submit additional information. If either party chooses to exercise this right, he/she must do so at the Tribunal Office after signing a "Conditions for Review" document and with a staff member present. Absolutely no testimony or other documents connected to a case are allowed to leave the Tribunal Office. Witness testimony may be read by either party unless the witness in question has stated on his/her Witness Authorization Form that he/she has objections to either party reading his/her testimony.
Ten days after the date of the Publication of the Acts both the Petitioner and Respondent will receive a letter stating that the time for reviewing the acts of the case and/or submitting additional testimony is closed. A judge will then be assigned to the case. Shortly thereafter, the Petitioner will receive a notice from the Tribunal with the date and time of his/her hearing and the name of the judge. The Petitioner should call the Tribunal at least one week in advance of the hearing date to confirm his/her attendance at the hearing.
After the hearing takes place, the judge will make a decision in the Affirmative or the Negative regarding the validity of the marriage. He will write his defence of his decision, which will be sent to the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston for ratification. In the event that the judge decides in the Affirmative and the Boston Tribunal ratifies that decision, a decree of nullity will be sent to both the Petitioner and the Respondent. Notification of an Affirmative decision will also be sent to the church of baptism of the Catholic parties and the church of marriage. This completes the annulment process. Both parties are requested to acknowledge the receipt of their decree in writing to the Worcester Tribunal Office upon receiving it.