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Provides justice for all persons who approach the Church's court system for a declaration of nullity (annulment) or other process.

Welcome to the Metropolitan Tribunal. Our mission is to provide justice for all persons who approach the Church's court system. This mission is fulfilled through the rendering of judgments concerning people's rights and obligations as well as their status in the Church. Such judgments seek to discern the truth about a matter and then initiate solutions that provide for justice based upon the law of the Scriptures, the Magisterial Teaching of the Church, and the Code of Canon Law.

The Marriage Nullity Process

A declaration of nullity by the church, or as it is more commonly called, an annulment, is an acknowledgment that a particular couple never achieved a full marriage commitment. This does not mean that the marriage in question, with civil and external implications never existed. The marriage nullity process is a Church examination of a marriage that has civilly ended in order to determine if the marriage was null due to a defect of consent at the time of the exchange of vows. This examination is accomplished through the participation of parties and witnesses in a procedure established in canon law, the law of the Church.

Below you will find resources which will help you learn more about the Marriage Nullity process. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office or to your local Catholic pastor.


Application for a Declaration of Nullity



Frequenly Asked Questions
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  What is a Declaration of Nullity?

A church annulment, or more properly, a Declaration of Nullity, is an acknowledgment that for a particular couple a full marriage commitment was never achieved. The Declaration of Nullity process examines the marriage for the necessary elements of a valid union: permanence, fidelity, true companionship, love of the spouse, and fruitfulness in being open to the possibility of children.


The tribunal seeks to determine if there was anything that prevented those elements from being present at the time of consent, even though both individuals may have entered the marriage in good will.

  How long will a Declaration of Nullity in the Ordinary Process take?

Due to the great number of cases considered and the demands of canon law, an exact time cannot be specified. Usually the process takes about ten to twelve months from the date of your application.  However, no one is free to promise a specific date for a subsequent marriage until the tribunal gives notification of an affirmative decision (without restrictions). The parties involved in the case are always free to contact the tribunal office regarding the status of the case.


Note: Due to the inability of the tribunal to provide specific timelines, parties with an active case who are engaged to be remarried or who plan have an existing marriage convalidated are not permitted to even tentatively schedule a wedding until their case has been resolved.

  Will my former spouse have to participate in the Declaration of Nullity Process?

No, however, the tribunal is required to inform the other spouse that the review has been initiated and then offers that person the opportunity to participate. This is required by canon law. A reasonable time is given the former spouse to reply. If the former spouse declines to cooperate, the tribunal is not bound to wait indefinitely for a response before judging the case.

  Do I have to come to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Pastoral Center for a deposition?

No, most cases can be handled with a mailed or digital rogatory (questionnaire). This questionnaire is separate from the application and asks more detailed questions about the courtship, engagement, and marriage. Parties are always free to schedule an in-person deposition at the Archdiocesan offices if they prefer.

  Does a Declaration of Nullity affect the legitimacy of children?

A church Declaration of Nullity is always strictly a religious matter and is solely an evaluation of the spousal relationship. It does not affect the civil validity of the marriage and does not involve the legal standing of any children

  What is the Briefer Process for Marriage Nullity?

Certain procedural steps have been amended without compromise to the theology of marriage, the law, or the integrity of the process.

  Who qualifies for the Briefer Process?

Three strict qualifications apply:

Both spouses must consent by signature, to the process.

The facts surrounding the case must be obvious according to the marriage law of the Church.

All the facts that support the criteria of nullity (proofs) such as documents and the testimony of parties and witnesses must be readily accessible and available. Even with this, the time necessary will vary from case to case. Once collected, the acts of the case are submitted to the Archbishop for a decision.

  Why is it important for both spouses to consent to the Briefer Process?

Why is it important for both spouses to consent to the Briefer Process? This requirement helps protect the right of both spouses to defend the validity of their marriage. There is a common misconception that if both spouses agree that the marriage is null, a declaration of nullity is somehow automatic or guaranteed. This has never been true, and the new law does not change that. The facts of the case, and not the spouses’ agreement or disagreement on the matter, determine whether the marriage has been proven null.

  What is the procedure for the Briefer Process?

First, a party (or one of them with the consent of the other) must submit a petition for a Declaration of Nullity, which in addition to all the information normally contained in a petition, has to demonstrate why the Briefer Process could be used, i.e., why the nullity of the marriage is manifest and also how it will be proven by readily available evidence. There is no guarantee that a case will qualify for the Briefer Process.

If, through examination of the facts, the Judicial Vicar determines that the case might qualify for the Briefer Process, the application will be shared with the respondent and their signature secured. The Judicial Vicar then issues a decree stating the grounds in the case, nominating an instructor (an official in charge of gathering the evidence) and an assessor (an official in charge of advising the Archbishop). To confirm facts, appointments may be scheduled for the petitioner (and the respondent) to come to the tribunal and give further information regarding the marriage; information is also gathered from witnesses. The Defender of the Bond and the parties then have 15 days to present additional information. After this, the case is presented to the Archbishop for judgment.

If, based on all the evidence presented, the Archbishop reaches moral certitude that the marriage is null, he can issue a sentence declaring the nullity of the marriage. If he is not morally certain, the case is admitted to the Ordinary Process. Appeal against the Archbishop’s decision can be made by either party or the Defender of the Bond within 15 days after notification of the parties.

Please remember that in this process, like the Ordinary Process, there is no guarantee of an affirmative decision. So, like the Ordinary Process, a marriage in the Catholic Church should NOT be scheduled, even tentatively, until an affirmative decision, free from restriction, is issued.

  How long does the Briefer Process take?

The law allows up to 30 days to review and admit a petition. Another 30 days is allocated to confirming the facts of the case. The law also allows 30 days for writing the sentence. The sentence cannot be acted on until the window for appeal has passed, another 15 days (not counting weekends and holidays). In all, that’s approximately 120 days from start to finish, not counting the possibility of delays.







When Mom & Dad Break Up

A PDF brochure to explain Church Annulments to Children.

When Mom & Dad Break Up

Contact Us

Rev. Curt Frederick
Acting Judicial Vicar

Zabrina Decker, J.C.D.
Tribunal Chancellor/Canon Lawyer

Anna Marie Chamblee, J.C.L.
Canon Lawyer

Andrew Gass, J.C.L.
Defender of the Bond

Andrew R.J. Vaughn, M.A.

Natalia Peñaloza Ferreira

Maria Botero Quintero, M.S.
Ecclesiastical Notary/Administrative Assistant

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI 53235

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408