Why does the Catholic Church have marriage tribunals?

The Catholic Church is committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning marriage. It is also committed to manifesting the compassion of Jesus to those people whose marriages have failed. So the Catholic Church and its ministers are committed to be both "prophetic" (to teach what Jesus taught) and to be "pastoral" (to minister to those people whose marriages have ended in a civil divorce). Marriage courts are established to respond to requests that are made by those who have received a divorce to investigate whether or not their former marriage was validly established according to the church's understanding of marriage.

The people who work in the marriage tribunal look upon their effort as a healing ministry, an expression of the Church's compassion and concern for those whose marriages have ended. The Church has a system of courts to handle marriage nullity cases. Those who believe that their marriage was not validly established, have the right to petition a tribunal to look into their claim. The work of the Tribunal, for the most part, involves a process of reviewing and discerning the basis of such petitions.