Interdiocesan Tribunal of Sydney
The Interdiocesan Tribunal of Sydney, Diocese of Lismore, is a service of the diocese to assist with the pastoral care of divorced and remarried persons seeking to have their marriage recognised in the Church, divorced persons seeking to remarry, and divorced persons seeking clarification of their standing in the Church.
Any Catholic or non-Catholic who questions the validity of his or her marriage is welcome to approach the Lismore Office of the Tribunal.
Interdiocesan Tribunal of Sydney, Diocese of Lismore
10 Orion St (PO Box 1)
Ph: 02 6621 7288
A divorce is a civil act that claims to dissolve a valid marriage. From a civil legal perspective, a marriage existed and was then dissolved. The Catholic Church, following the teaching of Jesus, does not recognise the ability of the State to dissolve any marriage by divorce.
An annulment, on the other hand, is an official declaration by a Church Tribunal that what appeared to be a valid marriage was not actually one (i.e. that the marriage was in fact invalid). While a civil divorce dissolves an existing marriage, an annulment declares that a marriage bond never existed in the first place.
While the process of seeking a declaration of nullity may be challenging at times, many people have found the experience can be part of the healing process following the breakdown of a union. The important thing to remember in initiating the process is that our experienced staff care about what has happened to you.
Importantly, an annulment does not declare that the spouses never really loved each other, nor that the divorce was more the fault of one party than the other, nor that one party is a better Catholic than the other. The process in no way concerns itself with compensation, reward, favours, retribution or sentiment in determining a decision.
A declaration of nullity (i.e. an annulment) is a statement that at the time of a wedding a permanent, binding union never came into existence because some essential element for a valid marriage was lacking. The essential elements concern the knowledge, freedom or capacity of a person to enter into marriage. For instance, one of the parties was incapable of marriage due to serious mental illness or a serious psychological condition that prevented him/her entering into a marital union. In practical terms, if a union is declared null, the Church considers the parties free of the marriage bond that would have otherwise arisen. The parties are then free to contract marriage in the Catholic Church.
Christ calls upon the community of believers, the Church, to be a community of healing and reconciliation. The legal procedures of the Church and their application are based on the teaching on marriage of the Lord himself (i.e. that marriage is a permanent covenant between one man and one woman). However, the Church also cares very much about those who have suffered through the pain of separation and divorce, and thus has, over time, developed these procedures with great care. Ultimately, the annulment process represents the Church’s desire to find a pastoral solution for people who have experienced a marriage breakdown while remaining faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and respecting the rights of all involved.
For more information on divorce and annulments in the Catholic Chuch, download the following documents:
ACBC Divorce and the Church FAQ booklet.
Tribunal Brochure (Is there a Lismore version Joe?)
Witness for The Tribunal Brochure
Every marriage matters, because marriage comes from the hand of God. God brings a man and a woman together to love and support each other. Their love becomes visible in the children they bring into the world and in their acts of generous service. In Catholic teaching, the valid marriage between two baptised Christians is also a sacrament as the love between the spouses symbolises Christ’s love for the church. For more information on marriage in the Catholic Church, download the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference frequently asked questions booklet.
If you are required to complete any forms (i.e. applications, dispensations and permissions) relating to marriage, these are available to download below.
Rev Peter Slack – Assitant Judicial Vicar
Ph: 02 6621 7288
Mrs Nancy Tarlinton
Ph: 02 6621 7288