It is within the competence of the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Omaha to adjudicate all petitions for marriage cases according to the norms established by The Code of Canon Law (2003), the Vatican Instruction Dignitas Connubii (2005), and the recent motu proprio of Pope Francis, Mitis Iudex Dominus Noster (2015). This Tribunal is the First Instance Court of the archdiocese and it is the Appeals Court (Second Instance) for the Dioceses of Lincoln, Grand Island, and Rapid City. The Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is the Appeals Court for the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Omaha.
The presumption of the Church is that all marriages, both Catholic and non-Catholic, are valid unless canonically proven invalid. Furthermore, the Church teaches that every valid marriage between baptized persons is a sacrament (canon 1055 §2), and thus considered a permanently binding union until the death of one of the spouses. Although not every marriage is a sacrament (e.g., when at least one party is not baptized) the very fabric of society demands that every marriage be presumed valid unless proven otherwise.
Church Tribunals do not exist to undo marriages, but to answer a specific question, namely, “Is this marriage invalid, from the beginning, for this specific reason?” The Church considers marriage according to God’s plan to be more than just a social institution, legal contract or personal commitment. As the natural vocation of men and women, marriage structures God’s action in the lives of the spouses. “. . . ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will cling to his wife, and the two shall become one body.’ So they are no longer two, but one body. Therefore what God has joined man must not separate.” (Matthew 19: 5-6) It is a false and unacceptable notion that marriages can become null over a period of time or as a result of some contrary action later in the marriage.
For more detailed information to start the process, take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions. Then use the documents and resources below to help you get started.
There are no fees or financial commitments of any kind associated with marriage trials.
First, we ask that you read this document: Getting Started. Then, please consider contacting your parish priest or deacon, or one of our Annulment Sponsors. If you prefer to work directly with our Tribunal–which you are free to do, but which we recommend that you do not do–compose a petition and begin gathering the required documentation, as noted in the “Outline of Petition for a Formal Case” (see below).
- Outline of Petition for a Formal Case
- It is strongly recommended that persons not submit a petition without speaking to their parish priest, deacon, or one of our annulment sponsors first.
- The Annulment Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Annulment Sponsors Contact Info
- Sample English Petition
- Expanded Explanation of the Grounds of Nullity
- Resumen de la Petición en un Caso Formal
- Se recomienda encarecidamente que no se presente una petición sin hablar con un sacerdote o un diácono.
- El Proceso de Anulación: Una Guía Paso-a-Paso
Contact Information and Personnel
For Further Reading:
- Annulment Not ‘Catholic Divorce’
- Catechetical Issues
- Myths and Truths
- Ten Questions About Annulments
- The Annulment Process and Its Effects
- A Serious Pastoral Problem for the Church by Archbishop Curtiss
For Parishes, Priests and Deacons: Tribunal Documents
- English Prenuptial Questionnaire
- Spanish Prenuptial Questionnaire
- Dispensation-Permission Petition
- Spanish Dispensation-Permission Petition
- Freedom to Marry Affidavit
- Spanish Freedom to Marry Affidavit
- Lack (Defect) of Form
- Spanish Lack (Defect) of Form
- Favor of the Faith Petition
- Ligamen-Prior Bond Petition
- Tribunal Fee Chart (Updated 5/2016)
- Tribunal-Chancery Checklist (Updated 7/2016)