The Marriage Tribunal provides service to those who have been previously married and are seeking a Declaration of Nullity, either for their own peace of mind or in order to enter into another marriage in the Catholic Church. To some, the failure of a marriage is seen as an unforgivable sin in the Catholic Church and the process itself is viewed as lengthy and replete with “red tape”. Neither of these statements is true. The Tribunal approaches persons with compassion and understanding. When a case is completed, participants often experience a sense of closure, gratitude, and peace.
The Code of Canon Law dictates the protocols to be followed in issuing a Declaration of Nullity. For “formal” cases, this procedure is both labour intensive and costly. Most cases are examined by a least four canon lawyers (three Judges and a Defender of the Bond). Other personnel such as notaries, auditors, transcribers and advocates are also on staff. The time it takes to complete a case varies but most files are completed in a year or less.
Petitioners are asked to contribute towards the expenses incurred by the Tribunal. In Winnipeg, the fee is set by the Regina Regional Tribunal and currently stands at $500.00. The Tribunal recognizes that there are situations in which persons have limited resources and is open to reducing or waiving the fee depending on the situation. Cases are never refused because of an inability to pay. The Marriage Tribunal is an important pastoral service which is heavily subsidized by the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.