Glossary Terms

Advocate  –  After all the evidence has been collected, the Advocate studies the case and presents to the Judges the written legal argument on behalf of a principal party, that is, a Petitioner or Respondent.

Annulment  –  A decision by the Church, based on the evidence of proof, that on the wedding day a particular union lacked some essential element which made the marriage not binding before the Church.

Adjutant Judicial Vicar  –  Assists the Judicial Vicar in Tribunal matters.

Case Manager  –  A member of the Tribunal Staff who assures that each case contains the necessary information and documentation, updates each case on a continuing basis, and monitors the progress of all cases.

Court of First Instance  –  The Tribunal Court which first receives and adjudicates petitions brought before the Tribunal of the Diocese.

Court of Second Instance  –  A Tribunal Appellate Court, located in another diocese, which receives appeals on decisions rendered by the Court of First Instance.

Defender of the Bond  –  Safeguards canonical procedure and, after all the evidence has been collected, presents the legal argument in defense of the bond of marriage against its dissolution or annulment.

Dissolution  –  An ecclesiastical action by which a non-sacramental marriage is dissolved by the Church after receiving proof that certain and specific requirements have been met.

Grounds  –  Certain circumstances present at the time of the wedding which, according to Canon Law, can be considered as the basis for an annulment.

Judges  –  Degreed practitioners of Canon Law assigned to study legal cases and render a definitive decision.

Judicial Vicar  –  Given ordinary (independent) judicial power to act as one with the Diocesan Bishop in the adjudication of all internal legal affairs of the Church.

Petitioner  –  One who submits a petition to the Tribunal for the investigation of a marriage or other internal legal affair of the Church.

Respondent  –  One who is asked to respond to a petition, such as the former spouse in a petition for a marriage annulment or dissolution.

Tribunal  –  The Church Court which adjudicates the internal legal affairs of the Church in the name of the Diocesan Bishop.