WHAT IS A MARRIAGE?
The Catholic Church understands marriage to be an enduring and exclusive partnership for the giving and receiving of love and the procreation and education of children.
For those who have been baptized a valid marriage is at the same time the sacrament of matrimony.
The Church believes that every valid, sacramental marriage that has been consummated is indissoluble. This is the law of God according to the evidence found in the Old Testament, the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the writings of St. Paul and thousands of years of Christian tradition.
Although not every marriage is a sacrament, each and every marriage (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, non-believer, etc.) is presumed to be a valid marriage. The good of all concerned (spouses, children, in-laws, society, the Church, etc.) demands this presumption.
HOW, THEN, IS AN ANNULMENT POSSIBLE?
In every presumption the opposite may be true. If sufficient evidence can be shown that a particular marriage is invalid, the original presumption no longer holds.
There fore, when it can be proved that a specific marriage is not valid or not a sacrament or not consummated there is a possibility that the Church will dissolve it or declare it to be invalid.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE TRIBUNAL?
Church law calls for the existence of a tribunal in every diocese of the world. The Tribunal of the Catholic Church of Ogdensburg is under the direction of the Bishop of Ogdensburg and is supervised by his delegate, the Chief Judge. He, together with a staff of specially trained and experienced priests, religious and lay persons, offers assistance to persons who request that the Church study a marriage in order to determine whether or not there is any possibility of an annulment.
WHAT IS THIS STUDY OF A MARRIAGE?
It is to determine whether or not there is a ground acceptable in Church law that would invalidated a marriage and whether or not this particular ground be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” to have actually existed in the marriage being studied.