Below is a brief explanation of why the Church believes as she does about marriage.
To begin the annulment process please contact:
Cecilia Jones, Coordinator Family Life;
Procurator Advocate for the Diocese of Dallas
972-596-5505 ext. 4222
You may also complete the brief form below and Ms. Jones will contact you as soon as possible.
Once contacted she will assist you in determining which type of case yours is (there are several different types of cases) and in filing an annulment with the Dallas Tribunal. We also have several individuals who are trained in the annulment process ready to assist you once your case has been assessed by Ms. Jones.
Marriage in the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is, by God's plan, an enduring and exclusive partnership between a man and a woman for the giving and receiving of love, and for the procreation and education of children.
For those who have been baptized, marriage is also a sacrament.
The Catholic Church also teaches that every valid, sacramental marriage that has been consummated is indissoluble. This is in accord with the Gospels, with the writings of St. Paul, and centuries of Christian tradition. When one of the parties to marriage has not been baptized, the marriage is understood to be "natural" instead of "sacramental." A "Natural" marriage or marriage that has not been consummated can be dissolved by the Church in favor of a new marriage.
Every first marriage, whether sacramental OR natural-including marriage between non-Catholics - is presumed by the Catholic Church to be valid. However, this presumption is not always correct. Hence, it is the responsibility of the diocesan Tribunal to determine whether or not a specific marriage may be invalid.
How Can a Marriage be Invalid?
A marriage can be declared invalid if evidence shows that from the beginning of the marriage (the time of the wedding) it suffered a basic and profound defect, and was, therefore, invalid. No defect that might arise during the subsequent married life of the parties would turn a valid marriage into an invalid one. So, only when it can be proven that a marriage was in fact, never valid in the first place can the Church declare it invalid.
- A Declaration of Invalidity does not imply that the marriage was entered into with ill-will or with moral fault or that a real relationship did not exist between the parties. Rather, a Declaration of Invalidity is a statement by the Church that at least one essential element necessary for a valid marriage was absent from the start.
- A Declaration of Invalidity does NOT annul the marriage in the secular world. A valid civil marriage did occur. An annulment in the Catholic Church is investigating to see if a sacrament occurred at the time of the marriage.
- Even if an annulment is granted in the Catholic Church it has NO effect on any children born to the union, as mentioned a moment ago, a valid civil marriage did occur.
Are there any Civil Effects from the Church's Declaration of the Invalidity of a Marriage?
Declaration of Invalidity by an ecclesiastical Tribunal does not affect the legitimacy of children, property rights, inheritance rights, anyone's name, right of access to children, or any other matter under civil law.
What about Confidentiality?
All of the evidence that is gathered is basically confidential. If the Respondent, your ex-spouse, does choose to participate in the case, then they are informed of the "grounds," that is the basis upon which the invalidity of the marriage is being argued. Both you and your ex-spouse have the right to view personally all of the evidence that is gathered. If either of you chooses to review the evidence in file you are required to come to the Tribunal office, with your Advocate, to review the case in the Tribunal office. You review and sign a confidentiality agreement before you begin, you may not make copies of any material in file and you are not to take notes; you simply can read and discuss with you Advocate and/or a Tribunal employee what the material in file means. NO evidence obtained in an annulment may be used in any civil actions that are continuing. If your ex-spouse does not live in the Dallas area the case can be reviewed at the Tribunal in which that individual now resides. Confidentiality is extremely important and upheld in all annulment cases.
What about my kids? if an annulment is granted what does that do to my children?
An Annulment does not affect the legitimacy of the children of the marriage.