WHAT IS A JUDICIAL VICAR?
The Archbishop is obliged by Church (or “canon”) law to appoint a judicial vicar for the archdiocese. The judicial vicar oversees the tribunal or “court” for the local Church. The tribunal handles marriage cases (i.e., petitions for annulment) and other matters governed by canon law, the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the western world.The judicial vicar and the entire tribunal staff support the Archbishop in his governance of Archdiocese.
Together, they serve one goal, the goal expressed in the final norm of the Code of Canon Law (canon 1752): “. . . having before one’s eyes the salvation of souls, which is always the supreme law of the Church.”
Office Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Judicial Vicar: Father Joseph M. Arsenault, SSA, JCL
Adjutant Judicial Vicar: Father Bruce A. Ansems, JCL
Office Manager: Janie Snead
Answers to Common Questions on Marriage Annulments
What is the Catholic view of marriage?
Marriage is a covenant that a man and a woman establish between themselves as a partnership of the whole of life that is directed toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children
What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Divorce is a formal and legal dissolution of a marriage under civil law; therefore, the bond that formed no longer exists. An annulment is a formal and legal decree that states that an essential element necessary for a valid marriage was lacking prior to, at the time of, and immediately after the point of consent; therefore, the bond never existed.
What are the essential elements?
Marriage is the living out of sacrificial love. As Christ gave Himself for the Church, husbands and wives are called to give themselves totally to each other. The couple must not only have a clear understanding of the obligations of marriage and be willing to fulfill those obligations, but also must be capable of fulfilling those obligations. They must each be of sound mind and freely make their commitment.
How long do annulments take to process?
Formal cases average 12-18 months to process. Briefer Method cases average 3 months to process. Documentary cases average 1 month to process. One of the determining facts for all types of cases is the length of time it takes the person requesting the process to submit the necessary supporting documents and testimony. Due to the varying lengths of time to process various cases, please DO NOT set any future dates for marriage UNTIL you have received the final decree conveying the result of the proceedings.
What is the difference between a formal and a documentary case?
A formal case involves:
1) one or both parties are Catholic and are married in the Catholic Church, or
2) both parties are non-Catholic and neither party has a pending case before a Tribunal
A documentary case involves:
1) one or both of the spouses are Catholic at the time of the marriage and the marriage occurred outside the Catholic Church
2) two non-Catholics, when the ex-spouse was married prior to their marriage of the present spouse.
What is the “Briefer Matrimonial Process” (Briefer Method) and does my case qualify for this process?
This process was established by Pope Francis and can be used in very particular circumstances, when the invalidity of the attempted marriage is blatantly obvious.
After the Tribunal receives all of the prerequisite documentation, your case will be reviewed to see if it qualifies for the Briefer Method. If it does qualify for the Briefer Method, you will be notified by the Tribunal Office. If it does not qualify for the Briefer Method, it will be processed according to the normal procedures.
Will my children be considered illegitimate?
No, legitimacy is connected to the reality that you were legally married in the eyes of the State at the time of the child’s birth.
Is there a charge for annulments?
No, neither party is asked to contribute to the administrative costs incurred in processing an annulment. Once the process is completed, donations may be made to the Archdiocese to help defray some of the administrative costs.
As a divorced Catholic, who has remarried outside of the Catholic Church, may I receive the Eucharist?
No. Receiving the Eucharist is a public statement that the person accepts all of the teachings of the Catholic Church, including marriage laws as set forth by Christ and His Church.
If I am divorced, but not remarried or cohabitating, may I receive the Eucharist?
Yes. A divorced Catholic, in the state of grace, who has not remarried outside of the Church and is not living with someone as if married, is able to receive the Eucharist.
Will my being divorced and remarried outside of the Catholic Church affect my ability to get an annulment of my prior marriage?
No. The annulment process examines the prior marriage in light of the teachings of the Catholic Church. It does not examine the current marital status of either party.
What if my former spouse refuses to participate?
If the former spouse refuses to participate, your case will continue to proceed. An individual will be named on the person’s behalf to follow the proceedings.
Must my prior spouse be contacted in the annulment process?
Church law requires that the ex-spouse be contacted out of their right to defense, unless extremely serious reasons deem it impossible or beyond what the law expects.
What happens if the address of my former spouse is unknown?
If the address of the former spouse is unknown, the efforts made to locate them are documented and included in the case, so that the judge will be aware of the situation.
How do I start the annulment process?
Contact your pastor. Some priests prefer to assist in the annulment process themselves, or they may refer you to a lay advocate.
What documents are required initially?
The marriage certificate, the divorce decree, and the baptismal certificate for the Catholic party (issued within 6 months with all notations), are the prerequisite documents.
If you have any questions, as your case proceeds, please contact your Advocate first. Extra-ordinary questions may be directed to the Tribunal Office. We are dedicated to serving you. You will be in our prayers!
May God Bless You
The Tribunal Staff
Archdiocese of Kansas City in KS
12615 Parallel Parkway
Kansas City, KS 66109