Absence of Canonical Form Frequently Asked Questions

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Where do I find additional information and applications?

You can access any forms or additional information you need by visiting the Forms and Documents page.

What kind of marriage qualifies as an Absence of Canonical Form?

 

Canonical Form requires that a Roman Catholic marry before two witnesses and the ceremony be presided over by the Local Ordinary, pastor, priest, deacon, or a lay person with the faculty (permission) to assist at the ceremony in conformity with the laws of the Church. Matrimony is not a private matter, but it is a covenant relationship with Christ which has the greatest role in the life of any society.

 

In some cases, the Church gives permission (Permission for Mixed Religion) for a Catholic to marry a baptized non-Catholic in a Catholic Church. With the permission, this is a sacramentally valid marriage. In another case, the Catholic Church can grant a dispensation (from Disparity of Cult) for a Catholic to marry a non-baptized person in a Catholic Church. In another case, the Catholic Church can grant a second dispensation (from the Form of Marriage) so that the Roman Catholic can marry a non-baptized in the church, synagogue or temple of the non-baptized party. Because the necessary dispensations or permissions were granted, these marriages are sacramentally valid even though the wedding may have taken place in a non-Catholic Church.

 

If a Roman Catholic married outside of a Catholic Church without the spiritual benefit of the dispensation from the Form of Marriage (marriage before two witnesses and before a Local Ordinary, pastor, duly delegated priest, deacon or lay person) and this marriage was never subsequently recognized by the Catholic Church (Convalidation), the marriage is invalid due to the Lack/Absence of Canonical Form of marriage for a Roman Catholic.

 

What documents do I need to apply for an Absence of Canonical Form decree?

 

In a meeting with the pastor or other parish priest or deacon, the person seeking the declaration of nullity (the Petitioner) will complete the application for the Lack/Absence of Canonical Form. The following documents are sent with the application: a recently issued (within the last six months) Baptismal Certificate for the Catholic party, a copy of the Marriage License/Certificate, and the Final Decree of Divorce.

 

How long does it take for a Absence of Canonical Form decree to be processed?

 

After the priest or deacon sends in the application and required documents, he should get the decree and all supporting documents returned to him within a month.