Role of the Office

The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Ecclesiastical Tribunal is under the direction of the Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and is administered by his delegate, the Judicial Vicar. He, together with a staff of specially trained priests, religious, and lay persons is responsible for processing cases and assisting persons who formally request a declaration of nullity of their marriage. A judge, or at times three judges, studies the marriage and decides whether in fact the marriage can be declared null. The Tribunal also provides canonical advice to diocesan and parish administrators and processes judicial penal cases as necessary.

To begin a Marriage Case, please first contact a priest or another Advocate at your local parish who is trained to assist you. Our Diocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal staff is always glad to assist you with any questions you may have related to canon law and canonical processes at The Catholic Center in Springfield at (417) 866-0841 or through the email addresses below.

Marriage & Annulments

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is, by God’s plan, an enduring and exclusive partnership between a man and a woman for the giving and receiving of love and the procreation and education of children.

The Church presumes that every marriage is a true and valid union. Therefore, all previous marriages of Catholics and those who wish to marry Catholics must be examined by the Tribunal before a person may be declared free to marry in the Catholic Church.

A Church annulment is a declaration by the Catholic Church in a particular diocese that a specific union, presumably begun in good faith, and thought by all to be a marriage, was, in fact, an invalid union according to the Catholic Church’s most recent teachings of sacramental theology and canon law.

There are absolutely no civil effects to a Church annulment in the United States. It does not affect in any manner the legitimacy of children, property rights, inheritance rights, change of names, adoption, child support requirements, or any other stipulation of the divorce settlement.

Types of Cases

The most common type of case is the Ordinary (Formal) Case, which determines whether a marriage is invalid because of questions about the ability of the parties to give consent or the sufficiency of their consent at the time of the marriage.

Other types are the Documentary Cases. These include Lack of Form and Prior Bond (Ligamen). The proofs in these cases are obtained almost entirely from official documents and are not so complex to resolve as a Formal Case. A Lack of Form case, generally speaking, deals with a Catholic party who married outside the Catholic Church without Church permission. A Prior Bond case involves a situation in which a petitioner marries a person who has been validly married before and whose marriage has not been ended by the death of the spouse, a decree of invalidity or a privilege before the subsequent union was entered. It is also called a Ligamen

The Dissolution Cases are the Pauline Privilege and the Privilege of the Faith (Petrine Privilege).Pauline Privilege is a dissolution of a non-sacramental but valid marriage between two unbaptized persons. The petitioner seeks to be baptized and enter a new marriage in the Church. A Privilege of the Faith (Petrine Privilege) is granted by Papal authority and involves the dissolution of non-sacramental but valid marriage in which at least one of the parties was not baptized either before the wedding or during the entire common life of the marriage. The petitioner now wishes to become a Catholic, or marry a Catholic, or is a Catholic who now wishes to enter a sacramental marriage. Such a case is developed locally and sent to Rome.


Marriage Tribunal updated application forms:

Tribunal Application for Lack of Form

Tribunal Application for Nullity of Marriage

How To Keep Your Case Moving

Formularios de solicitud actualizados del Tribunal matrimonial:

Solicitud del tribunal por falta de forma

Solicitud del tribunal de nulidad de matrimonio

To learn more about annulments, click on the link below:


Fr. Timothy Tran, CRM, JCL

Fr. Timothy Tran, CRM, JCL

Defender of the Bond

Fr. Tom Kiefer

Fr. Tom Kiefer

Judicial Vicar

Fr. Vince Bertrand, JCL

Fr. Vince Bertrand, JCL

Adjutant Judicial Vicar/Presiding Judge

Sr. Veronica Do, CMR

Sr. Veronica Do, CMR

Administrative Assistant