How to get a cancellation through the Catholic Church


Even with the good intentions of both partners, marriages are not always successful. This can be true even when the family is well established and the marriage has lasted for many years. Once a marriage is entered into by two persons of faith, whether Catholic, Protestant, or another non-Christian belief system, it is presumed to be a valid and binding union.

What is cancellation?

Cancellation is the act of declaring something invalid. To annul your marriage is to declare that the marriage had no legal existence.

The Catholic Church has established procedures that a couple must follow when requesting an annulment. Primarily, a civil court must divorce a couple before they can get an annulment.

Who can request a cancellation

Usually, a person requesting an annulment is someone who has been married, is now divorced, and wishes to remarry in the Church. The intention to remarry is not a necessary aspect to obtain an annulment; devoted Catholics may simply prefer that their divorce be legitimized by their parish.

Involvement of the ex-spouse

The Church demands that the ex-spouse be notified of the start of the cancellation procedure and that he offer him the possibility of responding to it. Your ex-spouse will receive a letter explaining the process that has been initiated. They don’t have to accept the cancellation. They can also choose not to participate in the process at all.

Documents you will need

  • A request for formal annulment through the church
  • Copies of baptismal certificates from all Catholic parties involved
  • A copy of the civil marriage certificate
  • A copy of the religious marriage certificate
  • A copy of the divorce judgment certified or signed by the judge

Submit your case

If the matter begins at the parish level, the priest, deacon, or pastoral associate will take your claim to court. If you want, you can go straight to court and not start at the parish level.


You are invited to contact two or more people who are ready to help you in your case. They should be people who know something about the marriage in question, especially the period just before and right after the wedding. These people are usually friends or family members. You must tell all witnesses that they have your permission to speak freely.

When to expect a decision

There is no way to put a timeline on the process. However, it normally takes around 16 months. The time limit for a declaration of invalidity depends on many factors. For example, if the applicant does not complete the necessary document collection on time, the cancellation is delayed.

Once all the information has been gathered, a judge or a panel of judges will draft the decision. They will decide whether or not the marriage was indeed invalid from the start. Another person known as the Defender of the Bond is also participating. The Defender of the Bond represents the marriage itself, speaking for all the facts that support the validity of the marriage. Once the judge has made a decision, you and your ex-spouse will be notified of the decision, unless the ex-spouse does not wish to be informed.


The cost of a cancellation may vary from church to church. The average cost is around $ 500, with a portion due at the time the file is submitted. The rest can be paid in monthly installments. If you cannot pay the full amount, arrangements can be made through the church to pay for some of the expenses. No case is dismissed due to a person’s inability to pay the costs.


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