The Tribunal usually must notify the former spouse, who is called the respondent, or at least make the effort to notify. Church law and indeed basic justice require that the other party to a marriage have the opportunity to know about the petition and to defend the validity of the marriage. For that reason the Tribunal asks for the respondent's address, or the name and address of someone through whom the respondent can be reached by letter. The Tribunal does not ask the spouses to have any contact with each other, and does not bring them together for any reason; but it must make the effort to extend to the respondent the right to be heard. The right to be heard in annulment cases includes knowing the grounds on which the marriage is being challenged and the proofs of those grounds, having an opportunity to offer testimony about the marriage, either in agreement with or in opposition to the grounds and proofs, offering other proofs, naming witnesses who should be contacted, reviewing the case file in certain cases, and appealing the final decision.
The respondent may choose not to exercise this right to be heard, and that choice would not prevent the Tribunal from completing its study. However, if the respondent is denied the opportunity to be heard, he or she could challenge the final decision at any time in the future.
For more information and further assistance, please contact the Tribunal office.
Office of Canonical Services and Tribunal
Diocesan Pastoral Center
PO Box 5147
701 Lawrenceville Road
Trenton, NJ 08638-0147
Rev. Msgr. James G. Innocenzi
Servicios de Canónico/ Tribunal
Judicial Vicar, Rev. Msgr. James G. Innocenzi
Personas que hablan español: Evelyn Aguiar, Nelida Agosto
Número de contacto: 609-406-7411
Each request is as unique as the persons who entered the marriage. While no one can be guaranteed an affirmative decision in advance, a person who thinks his or her marriage was defective from the beginning should be encouraged to request the study of that marriage. Many have already received justice through this process. At times people express the fear of reopening old wounds and hurts by going through a church process of nullity or dissolution. Yet the deeper self-understanding that can come from an honest and searching study of one's broken marriage can heal these wounds and hurts much more profoundly, and provide part of the solid foundation for a lasting and successful marriage in the future.