The office For Canonical affairs and the TRIBUNAL


    Welcome. You may be here for several reasons: perhaps you or a loved one has been divorced in the civil court or maybe you are looking for more information on annulments. Whatever your reason for coming here, it is our hope that you find the answers you seek. If you cannot, feel free to contact a parish priest or deacon serving in the diocese.

    Catholic Diocese of Arlington



    These pages have  been designed to help you understand the role of the Tribunal, the types of cases the Tribunal oversees and the grounds for an annulment.  

    There is sometimes a misconception that an annulment is simply a “Catholic divorce.” In reality, when one applies for an annulment, one is requesting a “Decree of Invalidity,” or a statement from the Church that the marriage was not a valid covenant with God as understood by the law of the church, Canon Law.  

    At the heart of the Office of Tribunal is the belief that marriage is a vocation – a covenant between man and woman that takes place when two persons exchange consent through wedding vows. For the marriage bond between husband and wife to be established by God, a number of intentions must be made by the couple.  

    • The couple must know what marriage is and they must intend for the marriage to be a lifelong commitment. 
    • They must be open to the possibility of children and also have the maturity and mental ability to follow through on these intentions. 
    Catholic Diocese of Arlington

    While the Church  does not have the power to divorce those who have been united by God, a “Decree  of Invalidity” states that the sacramental bond of marriage was never  present. 

    For more information on the types of cases that would result in this decree, click here, or if you have general questions, click here.

    Clergy can access the Marriage Dispensation Application form (via secure login) here.

    Listen to a podcast by Rev. Mark Mealey entitled: Marriage Annulment: is it Catholic Divorce?