A Tribunal is established in each diocese by the bishop to assist him in carrying out his responsibility as shepherd of the local Christian community which has been entrusted to him (cc. 369, 1419). As the judicial arm of the bishop, the diocesan tribunal cooperates in his ministry of furthering the supreme law of the Church - the salvation of souls (c. 1752).
The Tribunal interprets and applies the laws of the Church in the protection and vindication of rights as well as the determination of the status of persons in the Church. Although the majority of its work is resolving questions of marital invalidity, the Tribunal may deal with other sacramental matters as well. Tribunal staff members are available to answer questions or to give presentations on the law as it applies to the life of the Church and her members.
The diocesan bishop appoints a judicial vicar to oversee the operation of the tribunal (c. 1420). This individual must be a priest with a degree in canon law. Other qualified individuals, both cleric and lay, are appointed by the bishop to serve as judges, defenders of the bond, auditors, assessors, advocates and notaries in order to process petitions requesting a declaration of invalidity. The entire judicial process is specified in Book VII of the Code of Canon Law, as are the qualifications for various positions (cc. 1400-1707).
One of the roles of the Tribunal is to examine whether or not a marriage was a valid bond. If it was between two baptized persons, we examine the facts to discover if the marriage was a valid sacrament. The tribunal staff includes men and women of all ages and states of life. Advocates assist those who want to submit a petition of invalidity to the tribunal. The director ensures that the process moves along in an expeditious manner.
The judges look at the Church's marriage law in relation to the concrete circumstances of two persons who exchanged consent to marriage. The judicial vicar administers the Tribunal in the name of the bishop. All of the personnel of the tribunal are appointed by the bishop.
Should a person want to question the validity of his or her previous marriage/s, he or she works with an advocate to prepare a case to submit to the tribunal. A first step is to complete a preliminary questionnaire offering basic information about the marriage/s in question.
Next, the tribunal officers determine which process will be used to resolve each case. Each process is distinct. For this reason, the tribunal can never provide a certain time frame within which the case will be decided. There is no way of knowing for sure how long each case will take. Should you desire to inquire about a declaration of invalidity, please contact your parish priest, an advocate or the tribunal for more information.
1015 E. Southeast Loop 323
Tyler, Texas 75701
Phone: (903) 266-2172
Very Rev. Lawrence Rasaian, JCD, PhD
Defender of the Bond
Rev. Gavin Vaverek, JCL
Frequent Asked Questions
Formal Case Petition (MS Word | PDF)
Lack of Canonical Form (MS Word | PDF)
Ligamen Form (Prior Bond) (MS Word | PDF)
Sanatio in Radice Form (MS Word | PDF)
Pauline Privilege Form (MS Word | PDF)
Petrine Privilege Form (MS Word | PDF)
Ratified & Non-Consummated Form (MS Word | PDF)
Marriage Preparation Packet (PDF)
Please download and complete the forms in Word format. If you send this form electronically you need to scan your signature; otherwise, sign and send it by regular mail.
Peticion Para un Caso Formal (MS Word | PDF)
Falta de Forma Canonica (MS Word | PDF)
Ligamen (Vinculo Previo) (MS Word | PDF)
Sanación en Raíz (MS Word | PDF)
Privilego Paulino (MS Word | PDF)
Privilego Petrino (MS Word | PDF)
Matrimonio Rato y No Consumado (MS Word | PDF)
Paquete de preparación matrimonial (PDF)
Por favor descargue y complete las formas en el formato Word. Si envía esta forma electrónicamente necesita escanear su firma; de lo contrario, fírmela y envíela por correo regular.