There is a pervasive myth surrounding the Catholic annulment process that it can take years to go through all of the steps and finally receive a decision. This perception can be incredibly daunting! It’s enough to scare many away from going through the annulment process, or to put off doing so for years. In reality, there’s no need to worry so much about a long, drawn-out experience. Here’s how the Catholic annulment process works, and how long you can reasonably expect the process to take:
The Catholic Annulment Process
In the civil divorce process, there is usually a fairly distinct timeline. That timeline will depend on things like how long you and your spouse have been married, how much agreement there is in regard to dividing your assets, and what divorce requirements are in your state. The Catholic annulment process isn’t like that. Basically, by dint of how the annulment process works, there is no set timeline, so getting an annulment can go quickly or slowly depending on how you prepare.
The Catholic annulment process is pretty straightforward, despite the lack of a distinct timeline. The underlying reason for this is because the annulment process doesn’t simply bring an end to a union the way a civil divorce does. Instead, a Catholic annulment is actually an investigation into the relationship — specifically, the state of the relationship at the moment marriage vows were said. According to Church teachings, marriage is a covenantal agreement made between both spouses and God. The covenantal nature means that a marriage cannot be ended by anything. However, there are a set of necessary elements to put that covenant in place, and if one of those elements was missing when the marriage vows were said, there was not a covenantal union. The Catholic annulment process is, essentially, an investigation into a couple’s relationship at the time vows were said, as a way to see if all of those necessary elements were present or not.
The Annulment Investigation and Time
The amount of time it takes to get a decision on your annulment will depend largely on the amount of information you and witnesses can provide to the Church tribunal. The onus of the decision will rely very heavily on testimony from you, your spouse, and people who are/were close to you both — especially people who can speak to your relationship around the time of your wedding. The more testimony provided, especially testimony that would point to one of the necessary elements not being present, the faster the annulment investigation process can go. This is why there is no set time for how long the Catholic annulment process can take. With thorough testimony provided upfront, a decision can be made within a few weeks, but that final pronouncement can extend into the span of months if the tribunal needs more information or your witnesses don’t respond quickly.
Preparation is key if you want the annulment process to go quickly and smoothly. There’s no need to go it alone! The team at Catholic Annulment - Another Chance is made up of Church judges, so we can help you prepare. Connect with us today to learn more!