The Gathering of Information
After it has been determined that a formal Declaration of Nullity is required, and the case is accepted, the Tribunal begins to gather its information by first completing a personal interview with the Petitioner. The interview is conducted by trained Tribunal personnel (Auditors) on a one-on-one basis.
The main goal of the interview is to have the Petitioner tell the story of their relationship with the Respondent from beginning to end; to tell their own life story, and to tell what they know of the Respondent's family history. Through this process, Tribunal personnel gain a better understanding of the two people who entered the marriage being studied: their families, early life experiences, when and how the relationship began to develop, the factors that determined their decision to marry, how each spouse lived out the marital commitment, and the factors that caused the breakdown of the union.
The Tribunal is required to let the Respondent know that we have undertaken a study of the marriage. The Respondent is contacted by the Tribunal and offered an opportunity to participate in this process. Their participation would include a personal interview based on the same questions which were asked of the Petitioner, and an opportunity to submit the names of witnesses. Both the Petitioner and Respondent had rights in the marriage, and both parties have rights in the nullity process. It is left up to the Respondent as to whether or not they participate. The non-participation of the Respondent usually does not hinder the progress of the case. However, the cooperation of the Respondent may be helpful to the process.
The next step is to interview the witnesses named by the Petitioner and Respondent. Unlike a witness in a civil trial who often testifies for one person against another, the witnesses in a marriage nullity case are asked to describe the marriage as they saw it. Since the Tribunal focuses on the time of consent, the best witnesses are family members or others knowledgeable about the courtship, engagement, and the early years of married life.
In some cases, the Petitioner and/or Respondent may be asked to sign a release form allowing the Tribunal to request reports from medical doctors, psychologists or counsellors.