How is the process started?

A declaration of nullity process is for the most part a written process. The people involved, including the many witnesses, do not have to appear before a judge in a setting similar to that of a civil court. No individual has to worry about being scrutinized, "face-to-face," by a lawyer. All the information is written down and the review judge reads through it before making a decision.

The petitioning spouse may approach any priest, deacon, or certified parish staff member in the Archdiocese of Detroit. This person may eventually assume the role of procurator/advocate, so it is important for the petitioning spouse to approach someone with whom they think they can work. It is very important to work with the procurator/advocate in completing the application form. Submission of the application form is the first formal step in the process.

The application form asks for biographical data, as well as a detailed history of the marriage. The completed application, with all necessary documents (i.e. marriage license and divorce decree), is then forwarded to the Metropolitan Tribunal by the procurator/advocate. Someone from the Metropolitan Tribunal will contact the petitioner by mail to explain if the case can be officially accepted for further review. Once the application is officially accepted, the Metropolitan Tribunal will gather further documentation in the following weeks. This consists of pre-marriage preparation records from the Church of marriage. The petitioner and the respondent are notified each time the process reaches a new and different stage. Any contact with the tribunal is usually made through the procurator/advocate. A personal interview can always be requested if it is the preference of the one presenting information to the tribunal.